Anthem by Ayn Rand
is a dystopian novella written by Ayn Rand and published in 1938. The story takes place in a future society where individualism has been completely eradicated and the concept of the self has been abolished. The protagonist, Equality 7-2521, struggles to rediscover his individuality and rebel against the oppressive collectivist society in which he lives.
The novella begins with Equality 7-2521, a young man who is assigned the job of a street sweeper in a society where individuals have no names and their professions are assigned to them by the government. In this society, all aspects of individualism have been suppressed and people are forced to live as a collective. The government controls every aspect of people’s lives, from their jobs to their personal relationships.
However, Equality 7-2521 feels different from the others around him. He is intelligent and curious, with a desire to understand the world around him. He begins to secretly experiment and conduct research, which is strictly forbidden by the government. Through his experiments, he rediscovers the concept of electricity and light, which has been lost to the society for centuries.
As he continues to explore and experiment, Equality 7-2521 falls in love with a woman named Liberty 5-3000, who shares his desire for freedom and individualism. However, their relationship is also forbidden by the government, which does not allow any form of personal relationships outside of the collective.
After being discovered by the government and punished for his experiments, Equality 7-2521 decides to flee the society in search of a place where he can live as an individual. He discovers an abandoned house from the past, where he finds books and learns about the concept of the individual self. He renames himself Prometheus and begins to live a new life as a free man.
However, his newfound freedom is short-lived as he is soon discovered by the government and hunted down. In the end, he escapes with Liberty 5-3000 to a place where they can live as individuals and start a new society.
“Anthem” is a powerful critique of collectivism and the dangers of suppressing individualism in society. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is evident throughout the novella, as she emphasizes the importance of individual rights and the pursuit of happiness. The character of Equality 7-2521 represents the struggle of the individual against the oppressive forces of collectivism.
The novella is also notable for its use of language. The society in “Anthem” has eliminated the use of personal pronouns and uses only plural pronouns, which emphasizes the collective nature of the society. This creates a sense of detachment and impersonality, further highlighting the dangers of suppressing individualism.
Overall, “Anthem” is a thought-provoking and compelling story that challenges readers to question the values of their society and the importance of individual freedom. It is a must-read for anyone interested in dystopian literature, philosophy, and the role of the individual in society.