Analysis Of Society In 'Harrison Bergeron' By Kurt Vonnegut

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Most authors, when writing futuristic stories, tend to have technological advances like flying cars or robots to add that flare. However, in the story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut there is nothing of the sort. In the year 2081, the US government has tried to reach full equality by using handicaps on the gifted. The society’s rules leave more people with pain and anger rather than a sense of total equality with each other. Which leads some readers to wonder what a society where the ungifted were lifted up instead of the gifted put down would be like in comparison with Vonneguts. The pain, emotions, and overall equality could be different enough that it could seem almost normal to our current society. Reaching an equality by genetically…show more content…
If Vonnegut’s society were to raised the ungifted instead of handicap the gifted than readers would see it as an acceptable society, however it would not be seen as dystopian anymore because of societies numbness to self modification and overall attitude towards it.
Pain is a big reason why Vonnegut’s society is flawed and seen as unacceptable. The physical pain is the most obvious form of pain readers can see in the characters in “Harrison Bergeron”. One of the main characters, Hazel, who has no handicaps can tell George is in pain, saying “boy!... that was a doozy wasn’t it?” and visually seeing “George... white and trembling and tears [standing] on the rims of his red eyes.” Vonnegut’s society is continuously physically tasking. The handicaps the gifted wear constantly make loud noises which can not be good for the ears and could possibly cause brain damage. Yet if there were no handicaps and just genetic enhancement there wouldn’t be a continuous pain throughout one’s life. There could be no pain at all if the enhancements happened in embryonic state. Harrison, Hazel and George’s son, was considered dangerous, yet wore “spectacles...
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One could never fully understand the other. If the roles were switched, it would be easier to understand each other, and people wouldn’t be able to visually see the others differences. Hazel says “you [have] been so tired lately... if there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls...” and George says “Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for ball I took out...” This shows how oblivious Hazel, and ungifted person, is towards George and his handicaps. Citizens wearing the handicaps know how bad it is and the consequences for breaking the laws while the people who do not wear the handicaps have no idea what it is like. This creates a riff between the two different types of people. Hazel “...think[s] it would be interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” which shows the ungifted are “... a little envious.” of the people with handicaps because the ungifted can see that they are more intelligent and special because they wear handicaps. Hazel even brings up being “...Handicapper General...” which is a job that inflicts pain on people like George.

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