Analysis Of Kurt Vonnegut 's ' Harrison Bergeron '

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For those unfamiliar with Kurt Vonnegut’s writings, many of them are categorized as “science-fiction”, however, many of his stories are not too far from reality. One example of this is Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron”. The story illustrates the dangers that lay in trying to form a perfect utopian society. The story shows how total equality can have detrimental consequences. The story revolves around a central theme that creating total equality can be dangerous for society. The story, “Harrison Bergeron” is set in the future; the year 2081 to be exact and centers on a family of three: Hazel, George, and their 14-year-old son, Harrison. In this world, there are three constitutional amendments that make everyone equal. Agents of the “Handicapper General”, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers, known as H-G men serve to enforce the laws of equality. The H-G men represent the government and implement devices on humans with above-average intelligence to “handicap” their levels of intelligence, strength, and ability” to make them average; whereas, humans of average qualities are not implanted and remain average. Therefore all humans are equal in all aspects of their lives, no one is better than the other. If any humans in this world challenge the governmental laws of total equality, they are seen as a threat and are subjected to imprisonment. Fourteen year-old Harrison possess super-human qualities and is seen as a threat. He is imprisoned, however escapes but is ultimately executed by the Handicapper General after he challenges the government and the laws of total equality while on live television. In order to maintain equality and control, the government implements laws that are designed to create a level playing field f... ... middle of paper ... ...y, especially by ridding individuals of the unique qualities that help to form a well-rounded fair society. “Harrison Bergeron” is one of the best (short) stories I have read in recent memory. One of the reasons the reading is enjoyable is because of the plot. In this day of age, it is easy and common to question authority, especially our government. This story shows the potential of the government doing something for the “greater good”, although it is for their best interests. Also, Vonnegut has written some of my favorite novels (such as “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Breakfast of Champions”) so it was not surprising that I found this story amusing. Another reason why this story was so appealing was due in part to the setting. Today we live in an era where we are celebrated for excelling in a certain area, however, in this story people are punished for excelling.
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