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A Reflection on Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

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A Reflection on Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
Introduction
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story, Harrison Bergeron, is about control. The setting is based in future America, where everyone is forced to be equal. Harrison, the main character, breaks the law as the country watches on TV. The story begins by mentioning Amendments 211 through 213, making the reader aware of limitations that could potentially be placed on their freedom. In this story of perception, government agents are the deciding factor of a person’s fate and they ensure that laws are enforced.
Beautiful people must wear hideous masks to make them equal to the ugly, the brilliant wear ear devices that alter their thought process and make recollection near impossible and the strong wear weighted bags to make them equal to those who are weak
(Vonnegut, 1961). Forced equality is questioned by the handicapped and the outcome is a controlled society. Harrison is used to represent the people who will protest against such laws and encourage others to support his cause. The central idea is that the government could never make a perfect world by enforcing total equality but they can place limitations on people.
Discussion
Vonnegut uses a satirical and humorous tone while presenting a serious topic to critique America in the 1960’s, both politically and socially. The political system in the story is egalitarianism; this is the belief that all people should be treated equally in every way. “Harrison Bergeron” suggests the possible outcome of a society if it is founded too
3
literally on the idea that all men should be treated equally. Vonnegut functions as a nonparticipant narrator in the short story in order to convey the dangers that egalitarianism can cause if taken too seriously. His satirical tone presents an awareness of how “equality” leads to…...

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