Throughout history, many powerful men have strived for equality- to eliminate the people and qualities they view as imperfect. The government agency Harrison fights against in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, works for the same goal, but in a different way. Harrison Bergeron rebels against a government who handicaps the unique, the intelligent, the beautiful, and the strong. However, despite their efforts, they can not conjure up handicaps which control him. Consequently, he escapes from imprisonment and revolts.
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.
“Harrison Bergeron," written by Kurt Vonnegut during the 1960s, portrays vigorous political and social criticisms of America. The political system depicted in Vonnegut's story distinctly enforces the concept that people should be equal in every way. This concept, however, is taken literal. It is the year 2081 and every individual in America is forced by law to be completely equal. No one is allowed to be smarter, good-looking, or physically superior than anyone else.
Using symbolism adds to the depth and understanding of the story, it helps you “read inbetween the lines” and develop a better understanding of the story overall. In the story there were many symbols that were used, a good one is the character, Harrison Bergeron. Harrison was George and Hazel’s son, but he was different, and wanted the world to change. He is a symbol that represents a spark of defiance and individuality that exists in some people today. Harrison is an exaggerated character, who hungers for power, and this is evident when he storms into the T.V studio and crowns himself emperor.
In George Saunders’ essay from The Guardian, he states, “We often think that the empathetic function in fiction is accomplished via the writer’s relation to his characters, but it’s also accomplished via the writer’s relation to his reader” (The Guardian). In Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”, we can see this idea shown through the reader’s connection with Harrison. Vonnegut uses the main character of the story, Harrison Bergeron, as a symbol of empathy by allowing the reader to relate to his desire for individuality. At first glance in a story like “Harrison Bergeron”, it may seem difficult for a reader to connect to any of the characters. All of these characters “weren 't only equal before God and the law.
However in the short story, "Harrison Bergeron", by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., when Harrison is on stage risking his life to share his voice, he is a hero due to his brave, iconic acts to expose the government's corruption. To start, Harrison's motivations to revolt against the government sparked a basic characteristic of heroism, self determination. At the start of the book, it explains that
The extremely detailed description of Harrison punctuates this point; the author vividly describes his earphones, glasses, and description. The weights supposed to keep Harrison down is so haphazard that he can only be described as a “walking junkyard.” Further on in the story, when Harrison is in the news studio, he tears “the strap of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper” and snaps the bar that secures his head harness “like celery”. These visual descriptions are impressive as the give the reader a representation of what happens and perhaps makes it easier for the audience to imagine the scene that takes place. These illustrations are taken further when Harrison and his “empress” are described as “kissing” the ceiling as the leap in dance. This too brings a beautiful visual representation to the audience.
Vonnegut’s portrayal of a utopian society in the short story, “Harrison Bergeron” is exceeds anyone’s expectations of how a utopian society would be. In this universe, everyone is beyond equal. Such as everyone must be as average as their peers, no matter what. With the exception of race, of course. Everyone must look average,sound average, have average intelligence and this is achieved through the use of handicaps.
The government in these societies have deprived the people of individuality, free thinking and family, giving the people a false sense of happiness and love. Although “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vannegut and “Anthem” by Ayn Rand are both pieces of dystopian literature, their portrayal of family differs greatly. Marriage is how a family starts and grows, but in these two dystopian societies, marriage has been altered by their government. In
Harrison Bergeron is the protagonist of the story. He disagrees with the society’s way of living and is arrested for it, but he takes a step forward to change it. The author takes on different varieties of tone throughout the story such as gloominess, despair, and joy, which clarify the idea that he disagrees with this society’s