Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron Essay

Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron Essay

Length: 1386 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

The goal of countless societies throughout human history has been to establish both complete freedom and absolute equality. However, this goal is, by its very nature, unachievable. These two ideal states cannot coexist in their most perfect forms. Also, the perfect forms of either freedom or equality represent total chaos or total oppression, respectively. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” we see the consequences of sacrificing freedom for perfect equality. Vonnegut uses the story of this utopia gone wrong to demonstrate that a society in which total equality exists is not only oppressive, but also static and inefficient. He makes this point using his futuristic setting, the simplicity of the society, and the actions of his characters.
Societies that try to create total equality have almost always proven to be oppressive. We’ve seen this in recent times in the form of communist states such as China. The Nazis, whom Vonnegut fought against in World War II, also sought to create a society of equals through genocide which could have prompted the author’s thoughts on this type of utopian society. However, China during the Cultural Revolution more closely resembles the world of “Harrison Bergeron.” In the story, “Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains” (243). In China, intellectuals were highly oppressed as the government sought to create a workers society. In “Harrison Bergeron,” other handicaps, such as sashweights and masks placed on the heads of the beautiful, represent this oppression taken to an even further extreme. Also, in both of thes...


... middle of paper ...


... news bulletin.
Quite obviously, our society is not anywhere near the level of equality-based oppression portrayed in “Harrison Bergeron.” However, we do continue to deny social Darwinism by trying to create a society in which no ones feelings are ever hurt. The weak are protected through laws such as those that protect small, domestic business from larger, more efficient foreign firms. The strong are denied reaching their full potential by things like the No Child Left Behind Act. Vonnegut’s predictions for the future could still come into being if society continues along its current path. Freedom and equality cannot coexist, but they also cannot exist one without the other. The key to a functional society is a balance between the two. In other words, order must be maintained but not to the point where it preempts the personal freedom to better one’s self.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Equality's Dark Side in The Uknown Citizen and Harrison Bergeron Essay

- When Society is too Equal in The Uknown Citizen and Harrison Bergeron W. H. Auden's poem entitled "The Unknown Citizen" and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s short story entitled "Harrison Bergeron" is a portrayal of a conflict between individualism and government control. Auden's "The Unknown Citizen" is a government's view of the perfect modern man in an unrealistic society. Similarly, Vonnegut presents in "Harrison Bergeron" a scary and destructive view of the United States government in the future where all citizens are uniform....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron Essays]

Powerful Essays
1367 words (3.9 pages)

Analysis Of The Book ' Harrison Bergeron ' By Kurt Vonnegut Essay example

- What would happen to the world if everyone in our society was equal in every aspect. Would this create utopia or hell. In this short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. America has finally achieved full social equality, and living up to the first amendment fully. In this futuristic society, handicaps force this equality, the strong, the beautiful, the intelligent are forced to wear weights, masks, and headphones. These constraints force equality among the American people from beauty and brains, to strength....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut, Dystopia]

Powerful Essays
1191 words (3.4 pages)

Analysis Of Kurt Vonnegut 's ' Harrison Bergeron ' Essay

- ……………Most of the numerous and very disparate urban utopias imagined since antiquity, claim more or less a social justice combining equality, fairness, and freedom. However the methods invented to reach this social justice often lead to more binding law, sometimes up to the absurd, that limited the abilities and capacities of the citizens. Thus, behind the mask of an ideal equality, is concealed in fact, a tremendous social injustice. In “Harrison Bergeron”, Kurt Vonnegut’s shows us the consequences of sacrificing freedom for perfect equality by using the story of an excessive utopia to demonstrate that a society in which total equality exists, is not only oppressive, but also static and inef...   [tags: Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut, Dystopia]

Powerful Essays
1028 words (2.9 pages)

Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut Essay example

- Harrison Bergeron is a story written by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut’s story is a warning to the world about the quest of equality, which is spreading all round in many nations with America on the lead. The story shows the reader how the equality issue can have negative impacts on people’s individuality, and the society. The story revolves around the protagonist, Harrison Bergeron who is an archetypical symbol that represents defiance, and individuality. He is used to represent the people who will stand up, and protest against cruel laws imposed by the state on equality, and encourage others to protest with him....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron Essays]

Powerful Essays
1574 words (4.5 pages)

Analysis Of The Book ' Harrison Bergeron ' Essay example

- Hazel Bergeron in “Harrison Bergeron” is perhaps not the most obviously important character, when compared to the intellectual abilities of George Bergeron, she does not stand out. When comparing her to the great force that is Harrison, or the great beauty of the ballerina, again, she does not stand out. However, Hazel stands for much more than any of the other preceding characters, even Harrison himself. In the story of “Harrison Bergeron” Kurt Vonnegut establishes Hazel Bergeron as the light, sympathy, and, in some ways, foundation of the story; illustrating the kindness of humanity in the worst of times....   [tags: Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, Dystopia]

Powerful Essays
989 words (2.8 pages)

The Criticism Of Harrison Bergeron Essay

- The future entails breakthrough technology and unknown leadership. The harsh rules of the government in, Harrison Bergeron, causes the protagonist, Harrison Bergeron, to come up with the dangerous idea to overthrow the government which leads to the violent behavior of the antagonist Diana Moon Glampers. The author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., uses character development to show the theme of the harsh government through the eyes of the protagonist, antagonist, and the foil characters Hazel and George Bergeron in this futuristic society....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut, Dystopia]

Powerful Essays
903 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about Utopia and Dystopia in Harrison Bergeron and The Lottery

- Utopia and Dystopia are themes that explore the substantial extents of deceiving ascendancy and contrive an impelling illusion of a ‘perfect‘ society. Utopia is described as a place, state, or condition that is ideally perfect in respect of politics, laws, customs, and conditions while a dystopia, or a negative utopia, is a society characterized as an illusion of a perfect society maintained through oppressive societal control, in which exploits into an exaggerated worst-case scenario. The short stories, Harrison Bergeron, and The Lottery, are both literary examples imparted around a utopian society....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron, The Lottery]

Powerful Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Harrison Bergeron

- Harrison Bergeron, projected on a stage representing the conformity of a society with a system of Government based on equality for the weak, which are monitored and controlled by a dictatorial Government. This story is a literary sample that gives us a system of Government, where the law was created with the intention of limiting the individuals and turning them into beings with actuation equality, controlling them through the transmitters or obstacles in their body for that people could not exercise freely their natural abilities and any kind of right view....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron Essays]

Powerful Essays
684 words (2 pages)

Harrison Bergeron Essay

- Harrison Bergeron Imagine a world where an oppressive government captures what many call diversity. Where ugly is known as beauty and intelligence is insignificant. “They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.” (Vonnegut) This is the future that Harrison experiences, in the short story “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut. It is the year 2081 and the government handicaps every citizen with make up or weights to create equality....   [tags: Harrison Bergeron Essays]

Powerful Essays
1008 words (2.9 pages)

Harrison Bergeron Essay

- “Harrison Bergeron” is a story about Big Government forcing equality on citizens by the use of handicaps; in doing so they hold everyone back from their fullest potential. The year 2081 is oppressive to say the least; people are punished for being above average in intelligence, beauty, physical abilities or any variety of capabilities. No one is supposed to be more attractive, stronger, more intelligent or quicker than anyone else. The quest for egalitarianism is faulty; people who are born gifted are hindered by ridiculous weight bags, glasses to cause blindness and headaches, ear radios that send nerve racking noises every twenty seconds courtesy of a government transmitter and hideous mas...   [tags: Harrison Bergeron Essays]

Powerful Essays
969 words (2.8 pages)