Literary Analysis of Harrison Bergeron
Kurt Vonnegut's short story, Harrison Bergeron, is a fantastical extrapolation of the future. The essay serves as a stinging backlash to the saying "everyone is made equal." In Harrison Bergeron, a totalitarian government has enforced human imposed equality through the actions of the agents of the United States Handicapper General. This government induced equality has stripped humanity of individual thought, creative and intellectual spirit, and has actually lead society to believe it to be best for all. The story is mainly told through the living room of George and Hazel Bergeron. "Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else." (p. 882) George possesses above average intelligence and therefore has a small transmitter radio in his ear which sends out frequent blasts of noise ranging from chimes to a twenty one gun salute. His wife Hazel has "perfectly normal intelligence" (p. 883) for their society but by real world definitions she's mentally quite slow. George's physical handicap is a 47 pound canvas bag of bird shot around his neck to hinder his above average physical strength. Because of the Handicapper General, humanity cannot experience emotions to the fullest extent, as exhibited in this exerpt. "'You been crying?' he said to Hazel. Yup,' she said. What about?' he said. I forget,' she said. Something real sad on television.' What was it?' he said. It's all kind of mixed up in my mind,' said Hazel. Forget sad things,' said George. I always do,' said Hazel." (p. 887)
The two parents cannot emotionally respond nor are they conscious of the fact that their son Harrison was killed.
Mankind's creative and intellectual spirit has been stifled by the imposed handicaps. The musicians play "cheap, silly, false" (p. 886) music before Harrison shakes them in their chairs and the ballerinas' grace is grounded by their cumbersome fetters. Above average...
Cited: Vonnegut, Kurt. "Harrison Bergeron." Literature and Ourselves. 4th ed. Ed. Gloria Mason Henderson, Bill Day, and Sandra Stevenson Waller. New York : Longman, 2003. 882-887.
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