The Completely Equal Societies; Proving They do not Work
Many societies strive to make every person as equal as possible to the next, believing that this makes everything fair for everyone. In all truth though, society cannot function in this way; no matter what, there will always be someone or some group that has more power than everyone else. Equality should only concern the important issues, such as equal rights for all races and each gender. Both the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell and the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. are the quintessence of inequality and prove this point; all equal societies do not work. There are many similarities the book Animal Farm shares with the short story “Harrison Bergeron”, one being that no one is truly equal in either society, the second being that there is a group with supreme power that dictates what every person does and manipulates them, lastly the characters in each society look the other way when something terrible happens, no one wants to challenge the government for fear of serious punishment.
In both of the dysfunctional societies, the characters believe they are equal but in reality they are not equal with others at all. Once Jones is overthrown from the farm In Animal Farm the pigs assume the position of leaders and “So it was agreed without further agreement that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened should be reserved for the pigs alone” (Orwell 52-53). Never starting of as equal, pigs have special privileges that others do not have; they start off making a majority of the decisions without the rest of the animals agreeing to it. Being the only ones who eat the apples and drink the milk the pigs also come up with the Seven Commandments and put them into place without having the other animals help decide what they should be. Intelligent or strong people have a handicap in “Harrison Bergeron” and George Bergeron happens to have both. These handicaps are supposed to make George equal with the average person, but in the following quote it disproves that he is equal with others who do not have the intelligence handicap because, “He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one gun salute in his head stopped that… it was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples” (Vonnegut 2). Having no handicaps, Hazel has an average intelligence so she cannot keep one idea in her head for a long period of time; the difference between them though is that George hears noises that can sometimes be even painful for him. Clearly Hazel does not experience the pain George does, so it is not fair and they are not equal in this way.
Another similarity both stories share is that they have governments that manipulate citizens and the government is constantly trying to control what their citizens do. In Animal Farm the animals “…worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work on Sunday afternoons was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half” (Orwell 73). Here, in this quote it shows that the animals are being forced to work harder than in Jones’s time, if they were to skip working on a Sunday they would get half the amount of food and not one animal would want this. Manipulated to choose working on Sunday, a day that used to be for relaxing, do in fact work on Sundays because they feel averse to losing half their ration of food. Citizens of the story “Harrison Bergeron” belong to a society where “Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All the equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper...
Cited: Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York City: Penguin Group, 1956. Print.
Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr. “Harrison Bergeron”. Ebookbrowse, 10 Sept. 2010
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