In the dystopian society depicted in Kurt Vonnegut’s, “Harrison Bergeron, ” everyone is made equal. The story begins with, “The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way” (Vonnegut 1). Not everyone is born equal but the government organization lead by the United States Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, has placed various handicaps on everyone in order to make everyone equal before God and the law. Vonnegut’s use of satire and focus on equality is to show the flawed view we have on it and how it effects society.
The use of handicaps in “Harrison Bergeron” is to enforce equality amongst the people. The fact that all the handicaps are external and that there are various forms of these handicaps ironically shows each person actual strengths or differences. For example, if you were exceptionally beautiful, you wore a mask on your face; and, the uglier the mask the prettier you actually were. In George Bergeron’s case, he wore a headset with a brain transmitter on it that would amplify sharp noises whenever he had an above average thought; this results in keeping his IQ level at the same level everyone else. George also must wear a 47lb weight around his neck to counter his physical strength. The weight is a neck harness with sacks of birdshot in them; and, if he were to try and take some of the birdshot out he would be find $2000 and serve 2 years in prison for each pellet removed from the sacks. Throughout this short story, George doesn’t feel the risk is worth the punishment that he would receive for removing a tiny pellet so he refrains from doing so. The fear of jail time and torture from the government is a constant fear of the people.
Another key tool used to control the population is television. The setting of the story is largely George and his wife, Hazel, watching television in their home. In particular, they are watching...
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