Ayn Rand's View Of Technology As Seen In The Novel "Anthem".

1004 words - 4 pages

Ayn Rand, author of the novel Anthem, had the philosophical view of both a Romantic and a Realist. She states, "I am Romantic in the sense that I present men as they ought to be. I am a Realist in the sense that I place them here and now and on this earth." This quote implies that she portrays man in an idealistic sense, but she places her characters in a realistic world. Emigrating from the her home country of Russia into America, Rand was initially exposed to a somewhat technologically backwards society that discouraged the advancement of the individual. After settling in America, Rand found herself in a considerably more satisfying environment where a capitalist society existed in which technological and individual advancement was encouraged. This background led to Ayn Rand's opinion of technology in Anthem; through the comparison of the despair of a technologically backward society and the happiness of an individual who steps forth from the conformity of that society, Rand makes the point that technology is a positive advancement.In the first half of the novel, the totalitarian society in which the main character, Equality 7-2521, lives is depicted as very boring and monotonous, devoid from the comforts and luxuries of a technologically advanced society. Rand, a supporter of capitalism, portrays this philosophy by depicting Equality as dissatisfied and bored with the repetition of his life. Every night he sleeps in a sleeping hall "white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds." (28) Some of the people who live around him, also void of these luxuries, are stricken with mental illnesses. For example, Fraternity 2-5503 spontaneously cries for no reason, and Solidarity 9-6347 cries out in his sleep.Equality discovers a hidden tunnel to which he escapes each night; he steals various materials and manuscripts and performs experiments to increase his knowledge. It is Equality's human nature to want to learn more; he attains more satisfaction in his time spent in the tunnel than at any other time in his life. Through the use of figurative language in the quote, "We wish nothing, save to be alone and to learn, and to feel as if with each day our sight were growing sharper than the hawk's and clearer than rock crystal." (36), Rand depicts Equality's happiness in his individual technological advancements by comparing his feelings to objects that are exceptional and beautiful. The comparison to a hawk suggests the idea of clarity, which is a positive element; the comparison to crystal implies peace and blissfulness, which relates to Equality's happiness.Further along in the novel, Rand describes an account in which Equality watches a man being burned to death because he had learned and spoken the "Unspeakable Word." Rand depicts the man as saintly, calm, and happy, which gives strength to her view that she believes knowledge and advancement is a positive objective. In Chapter Three, Equality is delighted when he discovers electricity....

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