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Literary Analysis of Harrison Bergeron

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Literary Analysis of Harrison Bergeron

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  • November 7, 2011
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Can true equality ever be achieved through strict governmental control? Can people abolish their foolish hatred of differences in race, economic status, colors, religions, or sexual orientation? Can utopia be attained if we put an end to all these hatreds? In the satire, “Harrison Bergeron”, Kurt Vonnegut expresses his theme of the dysfunctional government of utopia through his effective use of simile, irony, and symbolism.

In the story, Harrison’s father George was exceptionally intelligent and so he was forced to wear an earpiece that would interrupts his thoughts every twenty seconds. When it goes off, his “thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.” It shows his inability to concentrate and develop independent thoughts on a subject. And it also helps the readers to realize how troublesome the handicap was because the story is also being interrupted every time the alarm buzzes. Vonnegut established irony when Hazel thinks that it was interesting to be hearing all types of noises but instead George is hearing twenty-one-gun salute. For example, in the beginning of the story, when he tries to think how the pretty ballerinas’ face were concealed in hideous masks to prevent people from becoming jealous, the sound of a bottle smashed with a hammer rings in his ear. This proves that the government restricts individuality to make everyone feels equal.

Vonnegut describes Hazel Bergeron, a helpless, kind woman who is not considered as a threat to the government, because she possesses an “average” intelligence, look, and strength. Again, the author demonstrates another example of an irony when she fails to recall the death of her own son after seeing it live television. This shows that Vonnegut’s future equality has brought what considered “normal” intelligence to the point where everyone becomes oblivious of his/her society.

Throughout the story, Vonnegut utilizes simile to describe Harrison’s appearance for example, “Scrap metal was hung all...