The Price of Equality

Topics: Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, Dystopia Pages: 3 (780 words) Published: October 3, 2013

The Price of Equality
Can an equal society truly exist? This is the question people and politics all over the world have been asking and striving towards for years. It is a difficult question to answer because the definition of “equality” differs from person to person. For some people, it might just mean equal rights and opportunities for men, and woman, and race. However, for others, “equal” means everyone is exactly the same in every way, shape, and form.

In the short story, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, the latter definition is used to portray America’s society in 2081. Because of the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the Constitution, no one is smarter, stronger, quicker, or better looking than anyone else. Those who are naturally smarter or stronger are given handicaps to restrain their abilities. These rules are enforced by the United States Handicapper General. Based on this story, I conclude that a truly equal society can never exist.

Human beings are judgmental by nature. When we see someone, we automatically start judging them based on their appearance, posture, and what they are wearing. Giving someone handicaps may block their beauty or hinder their thoughts, but it doesn’t actually make them any less attractive or intelligent. On the contrary, it would actually draw more attention to them: “She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous” (Vonnegut 4). The more attractive a person is, the uglier a mask they have to wear, but while the mask might cover the beauty, it also brings more attention to it. In order for everyone to be equal, no one should draw more attention than anyone else. The more handicaps a person has, the more they are going to stick out as being superior.

George, even though he is severely handicapped with an earpiece and multiple bags, can still reason through things better than his wife Hazel who has “perfectly average intelligence” (Vonnegut 1). In the story, Hazel tries...

Cited: Moore, Stephan, and Peter Ferrara. “The Poverty of Equality.”
American Spectator: April 2012
Vonnegut, Kurt. “Harrison Bergeron.”
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