Fictional Dystopias: Parallels in 1984 and Anthem
Ayn Rand creates a world much like George Orwell’s in her novel, Anthem. A world of collectivism arises from a fictional society of brainwashed human beings ruled by the World Council. The Council, like 1984’s Party, makes all decisions for the people, and attempts to control the emotions and thoughts of the people, while creating a false sense of safety and love of the Council and their brothers.
The objective of the Council is to eliminate individuality. Each character in Anthem is not an individual, rather a piece of a whole. This is the basis for the Council’s law that no man may act or think alone. The characters are unaware of the existence or meaning of the word, “I.” “What brought it to pass? What disaster took their reason away from men? What whip lashed them to their knees in shame and submission? The worship of the word ‘We’” (Rand, 1995). The concept of self is never formed or discovered. The Council controls all matters and makes decisions for the society. People are brought up to think like the group, never questioning, and following all laws set before them. This not only takes away personality, but creativity of the mind leaving each character in Rand’s society a robot. The characters are stripped of every human right, especially originality. The people are not even allowed a name; instead they are presented with a word and numbers by which they are summoned. The government steals desires, hopes, and opinions away from each human being born into the society, leaving them with one emotion: fear.
From birth to death, Rand’s characters live with no family or friends, but rotate through houses: Home of Infants, Home of Students, and Home of Useless. Once reaching a certain age, men and women line up every year and enter the Palace of Mating. Similar to members of the Party in 1984, the love and passion of sex is forbidden and unthinkable since this would require individual thought and favoring of one human being over another. “…It is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends,” (Rand, 1995). Individual thought is the greatest evil in society. Everything is done as told, without question, for the needs of society and for one’s “brothers.” “If you are not needed by your brother men,” proclaim the Teachers, “there is no reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies,” (Rand, 1995).