In Ayn Rand's Anthem, what was symbolic about the Uncharted Forest?

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The Uncharted Forest in Ayn Rand’s Anthem can be interpreted in multiple ways, but a primary symbolic meaning directly relates to the growth of the individual. Since the city in Anthem is composed of only “we,” the space to explore and learn as an individual is completely unheard of. Thus, once Equality escapes to the Uncharted Forest, his individuality, which could only be freed for temporary periods of time in the underground area beneath the city, can be fully unleashed. The fact that Equality and Liberty find the home from the Unmentionable Times further speaks to this newfound freedom. Once in the Uncharted Forest, these two characters are finally able to see their own reflections, make volitional decisions, read voraciously, and rename themselves, which can be seen as an ultimate act of independence.

The same archetypal setting of the forest is used often in literature, so it is worth considering its connection to other works such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Scarlet Letter. Northrop Frye recognized this pattern of characters entering a forest and emerging greatly changed when he spoke of “The Green World.”

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The Uncharted Forest represents an individual's life not mapped out by the government, or in this case, the brotherhood. Every aspect of the people's lives was mapped out for them from birth, to school, to work, and up until they die in the Home of the Useless when they are 45 years old. The Uncharted Forest represents free choice, individuality, and open-ended options for life as opposed to city life. Some people are too afraid to venture out into this symbolic forest of life because they are afraid of the animals (just as people were afraid in the story). And even though there is risk in living in the Uncharted Forest, there is also individual choice and hope to live as one wants to live. The animals in the forest may represent  disappointment and failures that one might experience when they choose to follow their dreams or live as they believe, but the alternative is being enslaved to the mundane activities of a safety zone prepared and ruled by others.

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