Effects of Equality in “Harrison Bergeron”

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Kyle Chandler

Professor T. Payne

English 1102

4 February 2013
Effects of equality in “Harrison Bergeron”

“Harrison Bergeron,” written by Kurt Vonnegut focuses on the idea of physical and mental equality, which is controlled by the government in the year 2081; the strong are forced to wear handicaps which hinder their abilities, the intellectual are forced to be unintelligent due to a radio transmitter that won’t allow the individual to think. Vonnegut uses satirical tone and places this story in the future, to show how total equality would not work. Not only does total equality sound absurd it removes the ability for individuals to be different. Individuality means having a quality that separates one individual from another. This means that by having total equality, there is a loss of individuality. In Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”, Vonnegut’s satirical, dystopian society in which everyone is average, presents the idea that handicaps that constitute equality also eliminates individuality, along with self-worth.

Throughout “Harrison Bergeron” every member of society is equal. With the use of handicaps no person can be above average intellect, strength or even appeal. Vonnegut uses word choice that promotes this society is a satire creation early in the story. “The Year Was 2081, and everybody was finally equal” (Vonnegut 7). By throwing in the adjective ‘finally’, Vonnegut claims that it should have happened sooner, yet as the story goes on it becomes obvious that nothing is attractive about total equality. He opens the second paragraph by introducing the two main characters, George and Hazel. Vonnegut also promotes his satire when the main characters keep losing train of thought due to the fact that George has a handicap that keeps him from thinking too much and Hazel is of average intelligence. “There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about” (Vonnegut 7). Having the ability to cry and then...
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