Inequality In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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Ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle said, “ The worst form inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” Vonnegut portrays Aristotle's philosophy in his short story “Harrison Bergeron.” The short story depicts a society in the year 2081, forcing physical handicaps trying to make everyone equal, “nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else” (Vonnegut 1). The people within the society have become passive, unthinking and calm and are restricted to the lowest minority. Although Harrison Bergeron rebels and goes against the society to break the dehumanization and to gain his freedom back that he once had. Characterization develops the central idea…show more content…
Vonnegut introduces to Hazel , Harrison's mother, as a passive character that has fallen under control of society. Hazel accounts for the average person since she “couldn't think about anything except in short burst” (Vonnegut 2) and when Hazel had thought of something and started to cry “ she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about " (Vonnegut 1). Vonnegut is describing Hazel through the eyes of the society that they live in. The society that existing in the story was in the year in 2081 where everyone was "finally equal.” George Bergeron symbolizes the part of society that has given up their rights and has become dehumanized. Before everyone became equal in every way from the 211th, 212th and 213th amendments George was intelligent and strong unlike the average person. Since the amendments were put in place George is physically handicapped and “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” (1). In addition , George must wear forty-seven pounds around his neck to weigh himself down. When Hazel suggests to just take a few of the lead balls George refuses the idea, unwilling to risk jail or return back to the dark ages “with everybody competing against everybody else” (Vonnegut 2). As the story progresses their son Harrison…show more content…
At age fourteen, Harrison was strong and intelligent unlike the average person. The government does everything in its power for Harrison to be equal to the lowest minority, forcing him to wear earphones to distort his thinking, glasses to damage his sight and give him headaches, and three hundred pounds of metal to weigh him down. Although none of the government’s hindrances, including jail, can stop Harrison, his will to live as a full human being is too strong. When Harrison escapes from jail, he is utterly convinced that he will succeed in overthrowing the government. Harrison attempting to claim his equality “tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper” (Vonnegut 4). In a revolt against the society he took one of the ballerinas as his empress and “ plucked the metal handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask” (4). Harrison’s attempt to make unequal things equal lead to death to him and the ballerina.
Aristotle's Philosophy that “ The worst form inequality is to try to make unequal things equal” reflects the central idea that one shouldn’t be willing to give up their rights for the sake of total equality because it could lead to a greater inequality. The society depicted in the short story has faced the greater inequality of dehumanization and restrains on daily
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