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The Dangers of Equality: A Close Reading of “Harrison Bergeron”
“Harrison Bergeron” has an elaborate setting in a dystopian future that supports his theme. The short story revolves about a couple named Hazel and her handicapped husband George watching ballerinas dance on tv. When readers are first introduced to the story it states, “The year was 2081 and everyone was lastly equal. They had been not only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendment.” (195). Due to the implementation of the Constitutional Amendments added to the Bill of Rights, this demonstrates the theme of every citizen becoming forced to be equal. The insistence on the idea of total equality by commanding folks to neglect their advanced qualities. Furthermore, a society can not thrive if individuals are tortured to match into the society’s standards. Another example is in Hunter Baker’s report where he states, “When government attempts to impact substantive outcomes via active interference, it sets citizens against each and every other and threatens the social cohesion needed for the broader society” (Baker four). In addition, this statement goes hand in hand with the theme. The reader is shown in “Harrison Bergeron” how the government attempts to strip citizens of their rights by striking worry in the citizens that disobey the biased laws. For instance when Harrison Bergeron escapes from jail, Harrison is portrayed as a brave, sturdy, desirable, alpha male. Harrison Bergeron removes his restraints and handicaps, the physical strength and the beauty he reveals triggers citizens to be reminded that underneath their own handicaps they are intelligent and talented.
The actions Vonnegut creates for the characters demonstrate to the reader that the clear theme for the short story is forced equality, which achieved at the expense of freedom and individuality. Close to the finish of the story, it states, “It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the handicapper general, came into the studio with a double-barred ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress had been dead prior to they hit the floor” (199). Due to the murder of Harrison Bergeron and the gorgeous ballerina, it confirmed that because they were murdered, they were and would never be equal in the eyes of society. Citizens with greater intelligence and talent had been given complete equality as an alternative of being obliged to endure the inhumane punishment of restraints and handicap devices. On the contrary, handicapped citizens deserve the privilege of getting capable to assert themselves in any way they pleased. At the end of Vonnegut’s story, he displays a conversation among George and Hazel. Hazel says “Gee-I could tell that one particular was a doozy” and George responds back, “You can say that once more,” Hazel responds “ Gee-I could inform that 1 was a doozy” (200). This particular action demonstrates to the reader that Hazel is beneath the average intelligence. Also getting no mental handicap herself, she is unaware that the government is demoralizing each citizen with restraints or a handicap. Referring back to the story, George tells Hazel to neglect sad things and Hazel responds with “I usually do” (200). The government coerces equality by intimidating every citizen that disobeys the law. The citizens have no decision but to overlook the desperate circumstance they are surrounded by and to internalize the worry that the government will severely punish them if they display any outstanding abilities.
All through the short story, Vonnegut consists of numerous makes use of of imagery to portray his theme that forced equality is achieved at the expense of freedom and individuality. For instance, Hazel asks George, “Why do not you stretch out on the sofa, so you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot about his neck” (197). This demonstrates that the citizens believe they are equal, but by requiring handicapped citizens equivalent to George Bergeron to wear restraints and “handicap bag” on their bodies, they are not getting true equality. Yet another example of imagery in the course of the story is when it is stated that, “to offset his great appears, the H-G men needed that Harrison Bergeron wear at all instances a red rubber ball for a nose, preserve his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random” (198). Vonnegut incorporated this sentence in the brief story to supply help for the theme by demonstrating that for Harrison to be equal in society’s requirements, he was forced to degrade himself and obey the rules of the handicap general. An crucial statement in the story is “Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to assistance 5 thousand pounds” (198). This sentence from the story proves and supports the theme. No matter a quantity of restraints and handicap devices on an individual obliging them to demote him or her will in no way be the resolution. The quick story of Harrison Bergeron demonstrates that even though the government might try to enforce equality even though the sturdy and intelligent people will revolt against the laws that demoralize citizens.
In the final evaluation of Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut’s use of setting, character actions, and imagery unite to help the theme that forced equality is achieved but at the expense of freedom and individuality. In Vonnegut’s futuristic dystopia society had not pursued to make new amendments that severely impacted the equality of citizens. The reader would not inquire the knowledge of how damaging it can be to permit the government to demoralize citizens with specific skills. By way of the actions of characters, the story demonstrates to the reader that forcing citizens to wear restraints and handicap devices is not the definition of correct equality. The brief story of Harrison Bergeron permits the reader to see that obtaining forced equality does not compare to having correct equality.
“Reflections on Social Justice, Government, and Society*.” Reflections on Social Justice, Government, and Society*.
Hunter Baker , 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. “Harrison Bergeron,” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. XJ. Kennedy and Diana Gioia. 5th ed. New York: Pearson, 2016. 194-200. Print.
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