Harrison Bergeron

Topics: Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, Dystopia Pages: 2 (527 words) Published: February 25, 2007
"Differently Abled"

"Harrison Bergeron" is a dystopian science fiction short story written by Kurt Vonnegut and first published in 1961. It deals with egalitarianism. The theme is set by the first line: "The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal." Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (October 1961), the story is available in the author's collection, Welcome to the Monkey House.

In the story, societal equality has been achieved by handicapping the most intelligent, athletic or beautiful members of society down to the level of the lowest common denominator, a process central to the society which is overseen by the United States Handicapper General. At the time of the story, the office of Handicapper General is filled by the shotgun-toting Diana Moon Glampers. A highly similar (though less developed) version of this idea appeared in Vonnegut's earlier novels, The Sirens of Titan. One segment of the 1972 teleplay Between Time and Timbuktu was based on the story, and it was later adapted into a TV movie, Harrison Bergeron (1995) with Sean Astin in the title role.

The writer summarizes the story and explains that it is not only a reflection of the author's concern with controlling the masses through television but is also an attack on the idea of enforced equality. The paper shows how the use of television to control people is a major theme in "Harrison Bergeron". The writer describes the dehumanization in the story, which is a result of government oppression, as well as the physical punishment that awaits rebellious people like Harrison. In conclusion, the writer states that no government is able to suppress the individual completely because of the desire of humans to be themselves and not machines.

The other major theme in "Harrison Bergeron" is the concept of equality. His world is similar to that of a tyrannical dictatorship, where people have no rights, thanks "to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the...
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