“Harrison Bergeron” is a unique story, in the sense that it takes place in 2081 in a dystopian society where everyone is equal. No one could be smarter, better-looking, or more athletic than anyone else. They are made equal with mental handicap radios for those who are intelligent, hideous masks for those who are beautiful, and heavy weights for those who are strong. The main character of this story, Harrison Bergeron, has a conflict with the American society in 2081. The internal conflict in Harrison’s mind is that the mental and physical handicaps affect the people’s thoughts.
The short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr takes place in the futuristic setting of 2081. Vonnegut harshly criticizes society's morals and values and also uncovers the corrupt truth of what it would be like if individuality and uniqueness were forbidden. “Harrison Bergeron” explores the possibility of too much power placed in the government's hands. In this society, those who are better than others are given handicaps in order to maintain the peace and create equality amongst the population. The handicapping is seen to be absolutely necessary in order to prevent rivalries also known as the “dark ages”(1) from happening again.
We all know and love science fiction books such as the Giver, the Hunger Games, Divergent, and much more. What we do not know about these books is that their is a deeper meaning, trying to teach us about a flaw in our society. In the Giver and Harrison Bergeron their are these themes that are trying to teach us about our world. The Giver and Harrison Bergeron’s themes are commentary on our unwillingness to accept our differences, and constant worry of making wrong decisions.
In Harrison Bergeron they try to make it to where everyone is equal. Something that our society strives for today. You have women that want to be equal to men and African Americans and Muslims that want to be treated like every other American. Everyone being 100% equal would never work because like in Harrison Bergeron when the son rebels and tries to become the ruler people start to follow. While in the story he and his girl get shot in real life even with them getting shot more people will start to up rise.
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.
The story “Harrison Bergeron” conveys the conflicts between the needs and ideals of society and the realities of individuals by showing that individuals feel ruled out of society. Of course, this creates an “idealistic” society by countering out individuals. This is shown by “they were equal every which way” ( Vonnegut 101). This shows that nobody had any individuality. Therfore creating the conflict in this”utopia”.
‘Dystopian novels help people process their fears about what the future might look like; further, they usually show that there is always hope, even in the bleakest future.’ -Lauren Oliver. Dystopian stories give readers a futuristic, imagined universe that portray an illusion of the perfect society through technological, moral, corporate or bureaucratic control.
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a short story that is set in the year of 2081 when everyone is equal, due to the change of the Constitutional Amendments. The only way for everyone to be equal is to give handicaps to the talented people. The Handicapper General and her agents enforce the laws to maintain equality and prevent renegades, such as Harrison Bergeron, from taking control. George and Hazel Bergeron are watching a television program when a news bulletin suddenly interrupts, saying that Harrison Bergeron has escaped from prison. Harrison then appears on the T.V. and begins to rebel in front of everyone, but is stopped by the Handicapper General shooting him.
Equality is without question, the overall theme in the “Harrison Bergeron” short story. According to the first paragraph, 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments were made to the American constitution, supposedly allowing for everyone to be “equal in every which way.” Aided by twisted methodology, anyone who was physically or mentally adept whatsoever was equipped with a series of “handicaps.” Ranging from in-ear radios tuned to government stations which send piercing sounds at coordinated times, to sash weights and bags of birdshot purposefully strapped around people’s necks, everyone with a natural advantage ended up being brought down to the level of those who were naturally weaker. So much as being good looking or having a nice voice also led to a series of impediments that, definitely for the worst, put everyone on an equal playing field, which is the ironic satire of total equality.
The short story “Harrison Bergeron” is a tale of a futuristic world in which everyone is weekend in order to be “equal”. It shows that be different from someone else is wrong, and should be corrected. This is what shows that Kurt Vonnegut’s (the author) view on equality is that it is something that isn’t worth striving for. In the story, it is said that everyone has to where bags of birdshot (shotgun bullets) around them so that no one is stronger than another. The amount of birdshot that was in the bags, varied depending on the person’s strength.
In the story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, the government wants everyone to be equal, so no one feels inferior. They make people that are more intelligent, athletic or attractive where handicaps such as heavy weights, masks, and a mental handicap radio . Harrison Bergeron is in jail because the government thinks he will try to overthrow it, which he ends up attempting to. He is killed by the government along with a ballerina because they take off all their handicaps and disobeyed. Even though he tries to do good by defying the government, he ends up achieving nothing but his death.