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What is ironic in the book Anthem by Ayn Rand  

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lynnajohnson | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:16 AM via web

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What is ironic in the book Anthem by Ayn Rand


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mitchrich4199 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:49 PM (Answer #1)

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Anthem is a Utopia/Dystopia novel. This genre is inherently ironic in that what the leaders see as "Perfect," at least one character sees as imperfect and prison-like. In Rand's novella, the World Council of Scholars, is part of the governing body of the World Society. They believe that they have solved all of the world's problems that were present in the "Unmentionable Times." The way that they have done this is by taking away all individuality and replacing it with an overpowering sense and need for community. For instance, each person in the society must refer to themselves as "We" rather than "I."

When Equality 7-2521 brings his discovery of light and electricity to the World Council of Scholars, he is told that it is illegal and that it will ruin the plans of the World Council of Scholars,

"and without the Plans of the World Council the sun cannot rise. It took fifty years to secure the approval of all the Councils for the Candle, and to decide upon the number needed, and to re-fit the Plans so as to make candles instead of torches."

This one section is loaded with irony. These men are the "scholars," the best and brightest of the Society, and yet, they can't see the value of electricity.

Rand's use of the utopia/dystopia genre illustrates her many points through the use of irony.

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