A Brief Analysis of the Theme of "Harrison Bergeron"

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A Brief Analysis of the Theme of "Harrison Bergeron"

By | March 2007
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Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s "Harrison Bergeron" is set in the future, when Constitutional Amendments have made everyone equal. The people of this time are made equal by devices which bring them down to the normalcy level in the story, which is actually below-average in intelligence, strength, and ability. These people are denied individuality. They are not allowed to reach their full potential. In an attempt to make the world a place rid of inequality and competition, the Handicapper General, who enforces these laws, robs people of their freedom. These laws hinder every person's ability to live their life to its fullest. Forcing everyone to be equal is unfair. At the beginning of this short story, the protagonist, Harrison, is in jail because he refuses to obey these laws of equality. It would seem that his parents, George and Hazel Bergeron, would be upset by their son's behavior; however, they are pretty much forbidden to form an opinion. Every twenty seconds, George is blasted by an incredibly loud sound from an ear piece which has been placed there by the Handicapper General. George, without the ear piece, is seen as a threat to society because he is intelligent. The blast of sound in George's ear disturbs his thought pattern. Hazel is of the "normal" group of citizens; therefore, she is not handicapped in any way. Although Hazel is not handicapped by the Handicapper General, she is unable to remember much of anything. Within seconds she forgets what just happened. This example shows that the normalcy standard is extremely low. Forcing people to be this way is unreasonable. People should have the freedom to express themselves and reach their full potential. By the end of the story, Harrison escapes from jail and proclaims himself emperor of a new group of people who are above-average. After a brief moment of glory, Harrison is shot by the Handicapper General. This proves that these laws of normalcy are not a joke, and that the world actually...

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