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Task 2

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Literary Visions of the Future


Summarise the main features of the society presented in the extract.
Analyse the means used to illustrate the underlying vision depicted in this excerpt.
Comment / Creative Writing
Discuss whether the idea of total equality is utopian or dystopian. Refer to both the excerpt and your coursework.
$ \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad \quad$ OR
Imagine you are Equality 7-2521. You meet Liberty 5-3000, a worker in the Home of Students. When you realize that you are slowly falling in love with her and that she feels the same about you, you begin to dream of living in another world. You ask Liberty 5-3000 how she feels about breaking free.
Write a dialogue between you and your girlfriend, in which you discuss reasons for staying or leaving your society.
Material 1


This is an excerpt from Ayn Rand's novel Anthem, written in 1937 and first published in 1938. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered yet another dark age.
It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations[1] bid them so. […]
It is dark here. The flame of the candle stands still in the air. Nothing moves in this tunnel save our hand on the paper. We are alone here under the earth. It is a fearful word, alone. The laws say that none among men may be alone, ever and at any time, for this is the great transgression and the root of all evil. But we have broken many laws. And now there is nothing here save our one body, and it is strange to see only two legs stretched on the ground, and on the wall before us the shadow of our one head. […]
Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it. We are twenty-one years old. We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet tall. Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said:
"There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers."
But we cannot change our bones nor our body. We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts which are forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may not wish. We know that we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it. This is our wonder and our secret fear, that we know and do not resist.
We strive to be like all our brother men, for all men must be alike. Over the portals of the Palace of the
World Council, there are words cut in the marble, which we repeat to ourselves whenever we are tempted:
"We are one in all and all in one.
There are no men but only the great WE,
One, indivisible and forever."
[…] We remember the Home of the Infants where we lived till we were five years old, together with all the
children of the City who had been born in the same year. The sleeping halls there were white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds. We were just like all our brothers then, save for the one transgression: we fought with our brothers. There are few offenses blacker than to fight with our brothers, at any age and for any cause whatsoever. The Council of the Home told us so, and of all the children of that year, we were locked in the cellar most often.
When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the Students, where there are ten wards, for our ten years of learning. Men must learn till they reach their fifteenth year. Then they go to work. In the Home of the Students we arose when the big bell rang in the tower and we went to our beds when it rang again. Before we removed our garments, we stood in the great sleeping hall, and we raised our right arms, and we said all together with the three Teachers at the head:
"We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State. Amen."
Then we slept. The sleeping halls were white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds.
We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It was that the learning was too easy. This is a great sin, to be born with a
head which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them. The Teachers told us so, and they frowned when they looked upon us.
So we fought against this curse. We tried to forget our lessons, but we always remembered. We tried not to understand what the Teachers taught, but we always understood it before the Teachers had spoken. We looked upon Union 5-3992, who were a pale boy with only half a brain, and we tried to say and do as they
did, that we might be like them, like Union 5-3992, but somehow the Teachers knew that we were not. […] The Teachers had said to us all:
"Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than you can know it in your
unworthy little minds. And if you are not needed by your brother man, there is no reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies."
Rand, Ayn (1938). Anthem, London, Prologue

[1] Council of Vocations: group of rulers whose specific function is to decide an individual's occupation
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Literary Visions of the Future

$\blacktriangleright$  Summarise main features of society
  • based on institutions like "the Council of Vocations", "Palace of the World Council", "Home of Infants", "Home of Students"
  • very restricting society
    $\rightarrow$ people are not allowed to think or write or to be alone
  • society is split up in classes: workers, Teachers and Leaders
    $\rightarrow$ Teachers and Leaders are superior and show it as well
  • main theme: equality
    $\rightarrow$ "all men must be alike", look the same, be equally intelligent,…
    $\rightarrow$ if one person differs from this general identity, they are considered of evil soul
    $\rightarrow$ punishments are performes if people don't listen / are different
    $\rightarrow$ there is no such thing as individuals, not even mankind, but just the "we", no "I"
  • everything is predestined, people cannot choose their profession, Council of Vocations assigns it to you
  • apparently, children are not in contact with their parents but grow up in certain homes with wards
  • rather sterile surroundings, there is nothing in the white sleeping hall but beds
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyse means which illustrate underlying vision
  • Means: "Evidence"
    $\rightarrow$ Interpretation
In General:
  • language: simple and bare, almost primitive, sentences short and simply constructed
    $\rightarrow$ repetitiveness, life is always the same
    $\rightarrow$ underscores remote feeling
  • absence of singular pronouns
    $\rightarrow$ people can't think for themselves, have fully adopted feeling of equality
  • anaphora: "It is a sin […] . It is a sin" (l. 1)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator is aware of what he is doing wrong
    $\rightarrow$ knows that he can be punished for that, but continues doing it
    $\rightarrow$ narrator is special / different from the other people
  • anaphora: "It is […]. It is […]. It is […]. It is […]" (l. 1-2)
    $\rightarrow$ enhances effect of first anaphora, also connected to hopelessness, since narrator knows what he has to expect from him deviating from the standard
  • simile: "as if we were speaking alone" (l. 2)
    $\rightarrow$ writing something down feels like talking to yourself to the narrator
  • repetition: "alone" (l. 2/3/6/7)
    $\rightarrow$ loneliness of narrator, his desperation about the situation and his wish to escape from it
  • repitition: "the laws" (l. 3/4/6/7)
    $\rightarrow$ significance of the state and its jurisdiction
    $\rightarrow$ also: fear of punishment / suggests that narrator has somehow broken the laws
  • metaphor : "flame of the candle stands still in the air" (l. 5)
    $\rightarrow$ no movement where the narrator is, darkness of the place
  • synecdoche: "under the earth" (l. 6)
    $\rightarrow$ stands for a cellar, maybe even a prison that the narrator finds himself in since he has broken the laws
  • irony: "Equality 7-2521" (l. 10)
    $\rightarrow$ it's the narrator's name, although he is the most individual person living in that state
  • symbol: "iron bracelet" (l. 10)
    $\rightarrow$ bracelet is like a shackle for the one who wears it
  • personification: "evil in your bones" (l. 14)
    $\rightarrow$ viciousness is genetically determined
  • personification: "words cut in the marble" (l. 20)
    $\rightarrow$ words are universal and eternal
  • enumeration: "were white and clean and bare" (l. 25)
    $\rightarrow$ sterility of the place, no stimulus for own thinking
  • metaphor: "there are few offenses blacker" (l. 27)
    $\rightarrow$ nothing is worse than being different from others
  • repetition: "year" (l. 29/30/31)
    $\rightarrow$ situation is unchangeable, always the same, suggests hopelessness again
  • repetition: "the sleeping halls were white and clean and bare" (l. 37)
    $\rightarrow$ even the bedrooms stay the same in order not to provoke any development of individual thinking throughout the years
  • understatement: "we […] were not happy" (l. 38)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator has incorporated the equality-theme that much that he is only slightly unhappy about his difference when in fact the opposite is the case
  • antithesis: "it was not that the learning was too hard, [it] was too easy " (l. 39)
    $\rightarrow$ shows the narrator being too different from his fellows and his fear of being punished for it
  • climax: "it is not good to be different […], but it is evil to be superior" (l. 40)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator believes what the State is telling him, that he is an abomination
  • metaphor: "unworthy little minds" (l. 50)
    $\rightarrow$ superiority of Teachers / Leaders
  • euphemism: "to burden the earth with your bodies" (l. 50-51)
    $\rightarrow$ if people are not being needed by the superior class, they will just be eliminated
$\blacktriangleright$  3.1 Discuss whether equality is utopian or dystopian
Possible information for Introduction:
  • definition equality: everyone in utopia should have the same rights and duties as everyone else / no privileged or powerful class
  • interference freedom: ability to do whatever you want, to judge and condemn otherswithout fearing repercussions, absence of laws and social distinctions
  • what would total equality entail?
  • utopian/dystopian literature on the rise, nowadays more popular than ever
Main Part - is equality a utopian or dystopian feature?
Utopia features:
  • some form of extended individual and social freedom
  • social, economic and technological equality
  • no diseases or pain
Dystopia features:
  • small group of people is in position of power or control
  • this results in unequal distribution of rights and duties
  • creates social, economic and technological inequality
Equality as a utopian trait:
  • social justice and solidarity: a regular utopia implements those defining features
    $\rightarrow$ equality would be natural for its inhabitants and nothing that people would ever really give much thought about
  • More's Utopia: utopian societies described develop systems aiming toward equality
    $\rightarrow$ equality through community of property and elimination of money, also through sharing of work, community rearing of children, and often community dining
Equality as a dystopian trait:
  • genetic makeup: competitiveness and selfishness originate in genetics
    $\rightarrow$ no society could really be qual without giving up humanity's nature, without controlling anything
    $\rightarrow$ "best" societies turn hence into dystopias
    $\rightarrow$ no one can ever rid him- or herself from a certain amount of envy
  • hypocrisy: governments who preach equality
    $\rightarrow$ most often, those who preach equality are in a superior position or have some sort of powerful function
    $\rightarrow$ Roth's Divergent equal factions turn out to be an experiment by a superior power / factionless who are supposed to live in poverty are actually freer than people belonging to a faction
  • external forces: a society which is regulated and uniformized by something external and not determined by individuals is dystopian
    $\rightarrow$ implies that someone or something is superior over others and controls their fates
  • Lowry's The Giver: supposedly perfect society
    $\rightarrow$ emotions suppressed in the name of sameness
    $\rightarrow$ cultural features like art, literature or color have been eliminated
    $\rightarrow$ equality $\neq$ sameness
    $\rightarrow$ more powerful people decide about memories of others for instance (Jonas receives memory of snow from the Giver)
    $\rightarrow$ society has solved inequality by having reduced personal property (everybody is equal and yet stripped of most individual feelings)
  • Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron: equality through torture
    $\rightarrow$ government tortures citizens in order to achieve equality (intelligent people are forced to listen to horrible noises in order to dumb them)
    $\rightarrow$ equality achieved but at the prize of freedom and personal achievement
  • Rand's Anthem: ironic use of equality / ignorance
    $\rightarrow$ equality in names when they are everything but equal
    $\rightarrow$ means oppressive living situations
    $\rightarrow$ people assigned to jobs regardless of their skill set (Equality 7-2521 could work as Scholar but becomes Street Sweeper)
    $\rightarrow$ inventions are being blocked because nothing should exist that is not wished for by many men
    $\rightarrow$ "government" stands in their own way
Possible Conclusion:
  • no society will ever be equal, there is always someone who will have to be in charge
  • most of the time, people want to break out of egalitarian societies due to oppressiveness and lack of freedom
  • hence, rather dystopian
$\blacktriangleright$  3.2 Write a dialogue between Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000
Liberty 5-3000, have you ever pondered over your name or our name?
What do you mean with that? We have a name that's a name and by which we are called.
But if you think about it, your name is Liberty, but are you really free? Our name is Equality, but are we really equal? We have been thinking about this over and over again and we cannot let go of that thought.
I am free to walk around if you mean that?
Are your thoughts free? Are you really free to go wherever you want? Are you free to work in the profession you want? We can answer that question! You are not and you will never be. You are technically not even allowed to meet us - not to mention love us! We are not in the same class, and we will never be. Don't you think there is something more? Something more to discover, something more to experience, to just be?
But here, we have a relatively safe environment. We grow up, we get educated, we are being cared for. The Teachers are here for us, the Leaders know where our path will lead us. We know what we will do for the rest of our lives and this does provide us with a certain level of safety…
It is not safe. Don't you remember the punishments they're giving to children and adults alike? Being locked in the cellar, being forbidden to think or write? Being called unworthy is something we never want to endure again. And listen, you do know that as long as you fulfill a purpose, you're safe. But as soon as the Leaders deem you unnecessary, you will be killed!
Please understand, this is our comfort zone, everything we did and knew in our live was predicted and predictable, and changing this from one moment to another is not that easy!
We know, and we have spent countless nights thinking about that. But see, if we broke out of this oppressive society, we could live on our own!
How are we supposed to live though? We wouldn't have food or clothes or even a home to seek shelter!
We could build and determine our own future on our own! We could go to the forest and live in a tree house or in a cave or whatever! I am sure that we will figure out a way to support ourselves. I could go hunting and you could go fishing! We could finally use our skills and not have to work as street sweepers. We could finally use our potential to create new living spheres! We could be truly free!
And all the dangerous things out there?
You don't even know, if these things really exist or if they are dangerous at all… And maybe there are other people out there who couldn't stand the pressure and the limits anymore. We could join them and create our own society without equality and pressure and oppression and limitations. And maybe we could even fight the Council of Vocations with our newfounded society? Who knows? There are endless possibilities out there, we just need to head out and pick them up!
We trust you and want to share a life with you - what are we waiting for then?
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