Essay about Analysis Of The Book ' Harrison Bergeron '

Essay about Analysis Of The Book ' Harrison Bergeron '

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Vonnegut 's “Harrison Bergeron” is set in the year 2081 and “everybody was finally equal.” (1306) The idea of equality in the story is very different from the traditional American idea of equality. It 's not only an idea of equal treatment under the law, but of being “equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else.” (1306) Those who were stronger wore weights on their bodies to handicap them, and the beautiful were forced to wear ugly masks. Rather than elevating those who are lower in society, everyone who is above average is brought down to the lowest common denominator. The ballerinas on TV are forced too wear “sashweights and bags of birdshot” and masks “so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in.” (1306) Rather than giving all citizens equal education and opportunities to succeed, those with the ability to succeed are prevented from doing so, supposedly for the good of society.
The title character 's father, George Bergeron, whose “intelligence was way above normal,” is forced to wear “a little mental handicap radio in his ear” that sends out a “sharp noise” every twenty seconds, so that he is unable to take “unfair advantage” of his brain. (1306) Each time George begins to have an intelligent thought, it is interrupted by a horrific sound in his head. He begins “toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn 't be handicapped” until the sound of a ball peen hammer hitting a milk bottle “scattered his thoughts.” (1306) Similarly, he is made to wear a 47 pound bag of bird shot around his neck as a physical handicap. When his wife Hazel suggests that he take a few of the lead balls out of it, ju...


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...le the point of the handicaps is to make everyone apparently “equal,” they really do quite the opposite. Those who are the most special still stand out because they have the most handicaps. The larger the weight of the physical handicaps, the stronger a person is. The more hideous the mask, the more beautiful the person underneath it. The intention is to create a society wear no one is disadvantaged and no one has to feel negatively about themselves, but the cost to society as a whole is great. Without competition, there is no progress, no advancement of society. Not in the fields of art or technology, and certainly not athletically. Equality is certainly important for justice within a society, but the ways in which the fictional society of “Harrison Bergeron” goes about achieving it are more harmful than they are helpful to the people who are supposedly being served.

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