Anthem Essay Contest 2010


17th Annual Essay Contest on Ayn Rand's Novelette, Anthem

For 8th, 9th and 10th Graders
Entry Deadline: March 20, 2010
  • FIRST PRIZE: $2,0005
  • 10 THIRD PRIZES: $200
  • 45 FINALISTS: $50
  • 175 SEMIFINALISTS: $30


Select ONE of the following three topics:
  1. Why do you think the Council of Vocations assigns Equality the job of Street Sweeper? Is it due to error, incompetence or a more sinister motivation? Explain.
  2. The old locks and lack of guards in the Palace of Corrective Detention indicate that prisoners never tried to escape. Why do you think they did not? Explain.
  3. In a single, unified essay, explain the meaning and wider significance of EACH of the following quotes in the story:
  • “To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.” (Ch. 12)
  • “It is the mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find the truth.” (Ch. 11)
  • “And we thought that we could trust this being who looked upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing to fear with this being.” (Ch. 8)


Essays will be judged on both style and content. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Anthem.

Essay submissions are evaluated in a fair and unbiased multi-round judging process. To ensure the anonymity of our participants, cover sheets and identifying information are removed after the first round. Winners’ names remain unknown to judges until after the essays have been ranked and the contest results finalized. ARI checks essays with Ithenticate plagiarism detection software.

  • No application is required.
  • Entrant must be in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade.
  • Contest is open to students worldwide. Essay must be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,200 words in length and double-spaced. One entry per student, please.
  • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by March 20, 2010, no later than 11:59 PM, Pacific time.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned.
  • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via e-mail and/or by mail by July 27, 2010.

Anthem—To Enter

» Submit Your Essay via Our Web Form

Click on the above link to access our Web Form. Simply fill in your contact information (this takes the place of a cover sheet), copy and paste your essay into the designated field and click "Submit." A message stating "Your entry is being routed" will immediately follow. You will receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your entry within 24 hours. If you have not received e-mail notification within 24 hours, please e-mail

Students unable to submit their essays online may mail essays to:

Anthem Essay Contest

The Ayn Rand Institute

P.O. Box 57044

Irvine, CA 92619-7044

For mailed-in essays only:

You MUST include a stapled cover sheet with the following information: your name; mailing address; e-mail address (if available); the name and address of your high school; topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the list above); your current grade level and (if applicable) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay.

If you wish to verify our receipt of your essay, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to the essay.

Please do not submit duplicate essays!

Comments or questions about the essay contests are welcome. Please write to :


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