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Objectivism in “Anthem” Novella by Ayn Rand

The novella Anthem by Ayn Rand describes the dystopian strange world, where everything is subdued to the wills of the society. There is no place for personal interests or for your own feelings. The society is of the main priority and no one is allowed to go against it. The main character of the novella is Equality 7-2521, 21 year old tall man, different from the rest of his brothers. He understands the difference, as it becomes especially obvious at the Home of the Students, where he discovers his will to cognize the world and to know more than all children were taught. Repenting for his transgression, he willingly accepts the assignment to the Street Sweepers, though he wanted to be assigned to the Hall of Scholars.

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Working with his friends, International 4-8818 and Union 5-3992, he discovers the tunnel, left form the Unmentionable Times. It becomes the place for their experiments, where they spent 3 hours every night. Occasionally, Equality 7-2521 meets a girl, Liberty 5-3000, whom he calls The Golden One, and falls in love with her. Continuing his experiments in the tunnel, he discovers the “power of the sky” (Rand n.p.). He wants to present his discovery to the society, but forgets about the time in the tunnel and his absence is noticed. He was sent to the Palace of Corrective Detention. Having escaped, he presented his discovery to the Council, but they did not accept it and he had no choice but to flee to the Uncharted Forest. The Golden One follows him and they live together in the house, studying the library, discovering the word “I” and obtaining their own names “Prometheus” and “Gaea”

Describing the dystopian society in Anthem, Ayn Rand especially underlines the strong taboo on using the words “I”, “We”, etc… In the novella they are called “Unspeakable Worlds” (Rand n.d) and a severe punishment is provided for those who will break a ban – his tongue will be torn out and the transgressor will be burned. Not coincidentally, the author adds such a peculiarity of the language to the novella. The totalitarian society is always characterized by a hard censorship. The rulers understand the power of the word and try to keep it under their control. In Anthem the society is based on the principles of the collectivism, where there is no place for personal needs. Feeling himself a part of a greater whole, patently obeying to the will of the society, the person forgets about his personality and wishes, changing into the unthinking part of the mechanism. The presence of the personal pronouns like “I” in their vocabulary is absolutely unacceptable. The men percepts the world through the prism of his language and the presence of the words, reflecting something personal, make people think about it. Saying “I feel” the person mean his own feelings, that is forbidden in the Anthem society. The phrase “We feel” has absolutely different meaning of something collective. Equality 7-2521 is not the same, having a thirst for knowledge and falling in love, he feels a sharp draft for having something personal, something that he will not share with the rest of people. At the moment he has realized that, he feels the strong need of the Unspeakable Word.

The novella ends rather symbolic. The main character and his beloved one obtain their names and Prometheus writes EGO on the stone. With this word the author wants to show us the predominance of the personal over social and the eternal human desire to obtain his personality, representing one of the main points of the philosophy of objectivism, which was formed by Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand is known as the developer of a philosophical system, she called objectivism, the philosophy of rational individualism (Thomas par. 2). Unlike the collectivism, which emphasizes the “priority of group goals over individual goals” (“Collectivism” par. 1), objectivism chairs the individuality, proclaiming it as the main value.

The philosophy of objectivism “begins by embracing the basic fact that existence exists”(Introduction to Objectivism” par. 1). That means that the reality has no alternatives and you should not try to change or rewrite it. The idea is to face the reality, rejecting everything supernatural and mystical.

The reason is the second important point. Rand proclaims that reason is an absolute, “this means: choose to face the facts at all times, in all areas, whether at work or at home, in business or in love — and no matter what conclusion logically ensues, whether pleasant or unpleasant” (Introduction to Objectivism” par 5). Having decided to follow reason you are to be ready to deny any emotions as a landmark in your life.

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Objectivism has its own point of view on ethics and morality. Ayn Rand rejects the accepted prescription of morality, proclaiming that its main purpose is to teach a man what lies in the sphere of his self-interest and can make him happy. Man can justify his actions, following the principle of his interest, deciding what is appropriate for him. His own life should be his highest value.

The last important issue of objectivism is the support of laissez-faire capitalism. The necessity of it comes from the realization of the individuality his need in freedom. The state should be totally separated from the economy, for the person to live and to earn his property free. It should just protect the lives of each individual, not interfering into his private life.

Works Cited

Collectivism. n.d. Web.

Introduction to Objectivism. n.d Web.

Thomas, William. What Is Objectivism? n.d. Web.

Rand, Avn. Anthem. n.d. Web.

Rand, Avn. Anthem. n.d. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 28). Objectivism in “Anthem” Novella by Ayn Rand. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/objectivism-in-anthem-novella-by-ayn-rand/

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1. StudyCorgi. "Objectivism in “Anthem” Novella by Ayn Rand." December 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/objectivism-in-anthem-novella-by-ayn-rand/.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Objectivism in “Anthem” Novella by Ayn Rand'. 28 December.

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