For Better or For Worse
In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, despite the courageous actions that may depict Equality as a hero-like character, ultimately Equality is motivated by purely selfish reasons and lacks the moral component to being a literary hero. His goal of creating a society that revolves around the individual, his relationship with Liberty, and his abrupt personality change after discovering electricity all illustrate the immoral characteristics that prevent Equality from reaching the status of a hero.
The individualistic society that Equality aims to create ironically mirrors the original collective society that he desires to destroy, and Equality selfishly ignores the greater good of the people and pursues his own goals in shaping the society. The ironic relationship between his ideal society and the one he wants to overthrow is that of they are founded on principles that appear to be opposite of one another but are in reality similar. The old society, which was given such a negative characteristic with its fear that “walks through the City...without name, without shape” (Rand 15). The worship of serving others is the basis of this society, as those who are happy are only so because they “live for their brothers” (Rand 15). However, the new society that Equality intends to create is based on an entirely opposite idea - that [quote about worshipping I], yet still is on the same grounds. He declares that “the word ‘We’ must never be spoken,” similar to how in the beginning, the word “I” wasn’t to be said either (Rand 37). The society that Equality wants to create is one that is just as damaging as the previous, and just as controlling. Also in his quest to develop his perfect society, he never thinks about what the others in the story truly want, but instead pursues his own goals. He declares, “I shall choose friends among men,” yet never considers whether it would truly be better for them to join him (Rand 37). Equality never takes into accounts about the safety and opinion of the others that he left behind. His selfish goal to create the new society, while being inconsiderate to his friends from the old one make up his self-centered, immoral character.
In his relationship with Liberty, Equality becomes dictatorial and controlling in his attempt to keep Liberty dependent on him, and his actions contradict the beliefs he stood for in the past and exhibit his...