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Harrison Bergeron

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  Essay  •  983 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,418 Views

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Harrison Bergeron

"If I tried to get away with it, then other people'd get away with it--and soon we'd be right back to the dark ages again..." This statement by George Bergeron sums up Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story "Harrison Bergeron" in one line. "Harrison Bergeron" is the story of a futuristic United States in the year 2081, where all individuals are made equal regardless of what their natural born characteristics were. They are made equal both mentally and physically, all to the same measure of intelligence and strength. In "Harrison Bergeron" the society has become apathetic and equally conformed because of the power of the Handicapper General, the forced use of handicaps, and the people within the society who continued to let themselves be controlled.

Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, is the person in control of this society's laws determining what handicaps people should have. She also is the enforcer of keeping these handicaps on and keeping all individuals equal. She has the right and the power to carry a "ten-gauge shotgun." She determines the weight of the handicaps to make a person weaker and the sounds that their minds hear to distract them from thinking, as not to be smarter than anyone else. Solely, Diana Moons Glampers has the power to conform this society and keep them at a minimal level of competition and innovation, which stifles the society from having new and interesting experiences. The society has become apathetic because they have become terrified of the power of Diana Moon Glampers: "It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and Empress were dead before they hit the floor." While Harrison and the ballerina where dancing, relieved of their handicaps for just a few moments, their lives were simple, normal and they were free. Diana Moon Glampers was able to end that feeling and keep the laws and people under control with two gunshots. The society as a whole is frightened of this woman and the power she has in determining their outcome.

The handicaps that the people are forced to use, the government or the Handicapper General have assigned whether to become less intelligent or weaker. There is no way to say what the measure of intelligence or strength or beauty is, but it seems to be the lowest or 'most average' in the society. These handicaps have conformed the society by making them look the same and think the same.

And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out a sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George was forced to wear handicaps that made him conform to the 'average' brains in the society. The consensus of the society had become apathetic and not willing to fight back or revolt against this injustice that they were forced to succumb to. "She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous." The ballerina was forced to wear an ugly mask because of her beauty, and she wouldn't fight against it because of her apathy and fear of revolting against the law or the society's laws. Ultimately the people not taking their handicaps off, even though they are physically able

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