What are some rhetorical devices found throughout the book Anthem?

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Euphemism:  This is the use of pleasant or inoffensive wording to describe something unpleasant. The initial members of the council who developed their society found nice names for even unpleasant places, such as the Palace of Corrective Detention for the prison, the City Palace of Mating for  the place...

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Euphemism: This is the use of pleasant or inoffensive wording to describe something unpleasant. The initial members of the council who developed their society found nice names for even unpleasant places, such as the Palace of Corrective Detention for the prison, the City Palace of Mating for  the place where they enforce their breeding program, and the Hymn of the Collective Spirit for a song used to help brainwash the individualism out of the citizens.

Capitalization: To reinforce the importance of certain terms, titles, places and concepts, they are capitalized, such as the Unspeakable Word, the Uncharted Forest, the Unmentionable Times, the Old Ones, Social Recreation and Social Meetings, the Great Rebirth, the City and World Councils, and the Transgression of Preference.

Parenthesis:  This is a technique used to add additional information in the middle of a sentence, and is often like the spoken aside in a play. The interruption is enclosed in parentheses, dashes, or commas. Rand uses it occasionally to allow Equality to give his opinion on information as he narrates to us. At the end of chapter 1, Equality has finished confessing to us his transgressions of being alone and learning in the tunnel. He muses, “And in our heart—strange are the ways of evil!—in our heart there is the first peace we have known in twenty years.” The parenthesis shows that Equality is still brainwashed to believe that his individualism is evil, yet we see him beginning to embrace it.

Dramatic Irony: This occurs when disparity in a situation is evident to the reader but not the characters. For example, in chapter 1 Equality is explaining how he is often in trouble for being different from his brothers, so to be a better student “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.” He actually tries to copy a “pale boy with only half a brain.” This example is clearly Rand’s satire on collectivist societies.

Situational Irony: This occurs when a character’s actions have an effect that is completely opposite of what was expected. For example, when Equality brings his light to the World Council of Scholars, he fully expects them to recognize the improvements that his valuable invention/discovery can bring to their way of life. Instead, they stupidly refuse to even consider it because he isn’t a scholar, the light wasn’t thought of collectively, and it would ruin the Department of Candles. Instead of making him a scholar as he had hoped, they threaten to burn Equality at the stake and want to destroy his discovery.

Verbal Irony: This is felt when a character says one thing but clearly means another. In chapter 9, when Golden One follows Equality into the Uncharted Forest, she says, “We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers.” The council has brainwashed them to believe they are blessed to be together collectively, and being free from the society is damnation. Golden One is still using the society’s words, but to her “damned” now means blessed, and “blessed” now means damned.

Symbolism: This is the effect created when a literal element has a deeper meaning. Golden One is always seen in a white tunic, and Equality notices her “white cheeks.” White, of course, symbolizes goodness and purity. She is aged 17, which is important to Equality because she has not yet been forced to join the time of mating. She is physically pure, and when she joins him in the forest, she is still wearing the white tunic.

Personification: We all know and love this technique of giving human-like qualities to nonhuman objects. Rand does it well right after Golden One tries in vain to say “I love you,” but it comes out all wrong because they haven’t yet learned the word “I.” Equality laments, “We looked into each other’s eyes and we knew that the breath of a miracle had touched us, and fled, and left us groping vainly.”

Anaphora: This is when an author purposely begins several sentences in a row with the same phrase. In chapter 9, as Equality and Golden One discover their individuality, he systematically rejects all that the Council has taught him. He narrates, “There is no life... There is no joy... There is some error... in the thinking of men.”

As with any great novel, there are many more rhetorical devices to be found. Consider using the link below to learn about a few and search for them in Anthem.

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