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Harrison Bergeron Essay

1170 words - 5 pages

Harrison Bergeron, a story written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is set in year 2081 when multiples constitutional amendments have been made to ensure that every single U.S. citizen is entirely equal under the law: nobody is more attractive, more intelligent, or stronger in physical capabilities than anybody else. The theme made clear in this satire is that total equality is not an ideal worth striving for, but a mistaken goal that is dangerous in both execution and outcome.

The U.S. government in this story moves to ensure that no one citizen is in any way superior to another. One aspect of this is in physical aspects: nobody is allowed to be exceptionally attractive, nor are they allowed to be ...view middle of the document...

This too can be a dangerous thing, as the cure for many deadly ailments could be inside the mind of one of these handicapped persons. While watching ballerinas dance on television, the main character George toys with a thought that perhaps dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. He doesn’t progress very much with this thought “before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts. George winced” (232). Something within his headset recognizes that George is having an intelligent thought and quickly punishes him with some sort of sharp noise to prevent him from taking advantage of this thoughts and running with them, perhaps to see if he can actually make it possible to remove handicaps from dancers and thus removing the equality the government had worked so hard to achieve. What is dangerous about the execution here is that George is made to suffer for a mere passing thought that does not necessarily mean anything. The outcome of this could have been a great thing: George might have stood up to the government for the ballerinas and influenced their handicaps being removed so that they can just be themselves and dance the way they were made to. George is suffering for contemplating removing the equalities, which could possibly lead to a better life for other human beings. In a society where everyone is made out to be equal, we create danger in that people suffer for being themselves and are not allowed any freedom.

Creating such boundaries for its country’s citizens causes a terrifying outcome. Harrison Bergeron, the character after which the story is named, was taken by the government at the ripe young age of 14 and held hostage for being excessively strong, intelligent, and all-in-all better than other human beings. He is given metal harnesses around his head, the same headset as his father George, glasses, and the same lead weights around his neck as the ballerina seen on the news bulletin. At the climax of the story, Harrison bursts into the ballet recital being shown on television and revolts, tearing off his handicaps and proclaiming “I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived!” (234). One can infer that because Harrison was so heavily handicapped above and beyond everybody else, he came to believe that he was the biggest and best man...

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