Analysis of “Anthem” by Ayn Rand

Updated April 1, 2022

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Analysis of “Anthem” by Ayn Rand essay

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In the novel Anthem by Ayn Rand, the main character, Equality, breaks from the monotonous society that he lives in by creating an invention that he believes will benefit others. He knows that the power of his invention will greatly impact mankind. Although he does enjoy the fact that his invention will benefit mankind, it is not his primary motivation for creating the invention, and is not what gives him joy in inventing. His motivation is the joy that he experiences when he uses his mind to create new ideas and inventions. I think that he is right to be motivated by this.

One plot point that proves that his joy is derived directly from the creation of his invention is his wonder and amazement at its function. Upon seeing that it works, he sits in the dark for a while, watching his invention glow in the dark. He feels that he has discovered a special power that comes from the sky, and wishes to continue harnessing this power. While he may not understand other properties of the “power” he has found (electricity), he actively seeks to learn more about it through experimentation. The simple joy that he finds in discovering more about science in general is motivation enough for him to break the rules of his society. His invention not only motivates him to learn more, but to share his knowledge with others.

I believe that he is right to be motivated by this, because he is not only using his knowledge for his own benefit, but using the knowledge he learns in an attempt to assist others. Although his society is extremely restrictive against any kind of learning or intellectual progression, he defies the societal norms. His dissent is justified because of the systemic oppression of his society. Rather than allowing citizens to choose occupations that suit their interests, they assign specific jobs to people, jobs that may not suit them. Their society uses lashings and interrogation in an attempt to manage their citizens, but Equality bears the pain of the lashings that are used to punish him. His bravery in the face of such a dictatorial society’s oppression and his attempt to assist the rest of society with his invention fully justifies his motivation for inventing and creating.

If everybody were motivated in the same way as Equality, it would be almost impossible for the government to punish such a large amount of free-thinking people. There would be a worldwide increase in productivity and intellectual output.

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