Science And Symbolism In Ayn Rand's Anthem

1177 Words 5 Pages
Imagine a world where one cannot fail nor excel, create nor break boundaries, and love nor hate any one person more than another. Evil and good intentions are tightly woven in Ayn Rand 's Anthem, the story of Equality 7-2521, a man cursed to constantly question the world around him. His city is built on the foundation that all people "exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State" (21). The novella is set in a totalitarian future, but lacks the futuristic ideas that similar stories are often overflowing with. Equalitiy 's experiences in a world that knows the candle to be the greatest invention suggests that for scientific and technological advancements to take place, there must be acceptance, defiance, and desire.
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These range from social norms to restrictions put in place through laws, as science rarely fits nicely into the preconceived notions of the ways of the world. This is evident when Equality and International 4-8818 discover an underground tunnel with train tracks. International tells him " 'It is forbidden '"(31) when he suggests going into the tunnel, but Equality insists " 'We shall go, nonetheless"(31). He knows they will be severely punished if the Council discovers their actions, but he does it anyway. He even knows that he is exploring an artifact form the Unmentionable Times and those " 'are damned who touch the things of the Unmentionable Times" '(33). He risks severe punishment but does it so he can explore what he does not understand, ultimately leading to his own scientific discoveries. This defiance leads to a place for the lab where he uncovers one of the mysteries of the past: electricity. In another instance he loses track of time and rushes home, but before he can sneak in he is taken to be questioned by the Council. He could confess to everything he has done and no longer live with guilt, but to protect his invention he is silent. Even after being stripped and beaten at the Palace of Corrective Detention he refuses to speak and does what no man has dared to do, escapes.Men have defied the council by breaking laws, but " men have never defied the Councils so far as to …show more content…
Equality is driven to create his tunnel filled with stolen supplies out of his own unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His passion for discovery outweighs his concern of right and wrong as "Nothing matters save the work...our evil"(18). He is willing to devote himself for three hours every night to discover answers to his never ending questions at the risk of being discovered and severely punished. His passion is evident after he discover electricity as he exclaims "We cannot stop now even though it frightens us that we are alone in our knowledge... what care we if we must travel it alone"(54). Desire to be a scholar drives him to eradicate himself from the ways of his world, leading him to the reward of knowledge. Another example of his desire to improve science is his life long need to know what the eyes of the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word were telling him. He states he will do whatever it take to know the word "even if we have to burn for it like the Saint of the pyre." His hunger to know this takes him all the way to a home with books that uncover the word "I". Although it is not technology in the traditional sense, going from referring to oneself as "we" to I is a major step for their social science willed by one man 's passion. The nature of scientific discovery is one of yearning that consumes the

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