Ayn Rand’s Dystopian Novella Anthem and Its Relevance to Us Today

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The values at risk in Anthem are not merely those of the central luminary; they are the ostensible values of an entire civilization—our own. Our society is founded upon the notion of individual rights; its existence, as Ayn Rand depicts, cannot be conceived on any other grounds. Anthem, Rand’s dystopian novella, is about us, and about what will happen if we do not follow alongside Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 in their discovery of the importance of individualism.
Rand intends Equality’s name to be a misnomer, since we know that he is far superior to his peers and later comes to reject the principle his name characterizes. Liberty 5-3000 is a character meant to epitomize freedom—although it is quite paradoxical that her society would
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One of the expounding stories of Western culture is a central theme of Ayn Rand’s Anthem—the myth of Prometheus. In Prometheus the Greek Titan and Equality’s epics, both bring some kind of “fire” down from the heavens to his fellow men—Prometheus, by trickery, stole fire itself, while Equality discovered and developed electricity and the light bulb. Though what they did was paramount, both were punished for their egoistic, creative actions—Prometheus by the almighty Zeus, Equality by the World Council of Scholars.
Upon discovering the nature of selfhood and the many texts in the house of the Unmentionable Times, Equality employs, for himself, a just, individual name: “I have read of a man who lived many thousands of years ago, and of all the names in these books, his is the one I wish to bear. He took the light of the gods and he brought it to men…His name was Prometheus” (98-9). The newly named Prometheus expounds fundamental crises faced by man, upon his birth: explaining that man was once enslaved by gods, kings, kin, and by race, but that he later broke free from all of their chains (101). And in doing so, “[Prometheus] declare[s] to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor any other man can take away from him…for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right” (101-2). He selects the name of a god who “taught men to be gods,” gave them fire, and was punished
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