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Anthem is told through the words of Equality 7-2521, in diary form. Equality 7-2521 is a young man who lives in the future after a time called the "Great Re-birth". The city in which he lives is surrounded by an immense forest which is thought to be impassable due to the fact it is filled with wild animals. This is a simple and isolated society in which all technology is carefully controlled and in its most primitive state. All awareness and understanding of individualism has been lost and words such as 'I', 'me', or 'mine', do not exist in spoken or written language, therefore, nearly the entire story is told in the 'first person plural'. Independent thoughts and/or actions are strictly prohibited by law and therefore, everyone lives and works in groups as a collective body also known as the "Great We". In charge of these collective groups are various councils such as; Council of Vocations, the Council of Scholars, The Palace of Corrective Detention and etc.
Equality 7-2521 experiences deep, inner turmoil because he finds that he secretly has independent thoughts and desires. For instance, he longs to be with a young woman named Liberty 5-3000 who is a seed planter. He also desires to be a scholar more than anything else, but in a collective society such as the "Great We", preference is strictly forbidden. Sensing that Equality 7-2521 is different than his fellow brothers, the Council of Vocations is apprehensive about him filling a job that could lead him to independent thought and exploration and therefore assigns him the to the dull and mundane job of a street sweeper.
It is while out sweeping streets, Equality 7-2521 finds a long lost hidden tunnel from the "Unmentionable Times" and decides to explore it, against the wishes of fellow sweeper, International 4-8818. While in the tunnel he discovers an old battery operated lantern and eventually he discovers how to make the lantern operable. When he shows his discovery to the Council of Scholars, they immediately condemn Equality 7-2521 for having the audacity to act as an individual and threaten to destroy the light. Equality 7-2521 escapes into the forest, from which no person has ever returned. Upon hearing of his escape, Liberty 5-3000, (Equality's secret love) runs into the forest to find him. Together they discover a very old house from the "Unmentionable Times", the time before collectivism. It is there they rediscover the forbidden word that disappeared so long ago ... 'I'. Together they decide to use this new sense of self to build a new society, a society of individuals.
It's powerful themes regarding individualism, self worth, acceptance, personal freedom and love, along with it's main characters are easily identifiable and relatable to everyone and will make Anthem one of the most powerful and successful musicals to ever hit the stage.
Anthem is based on the novella "Anthem" by Ayn Rand
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