Thursday, May 19, 2016

Response to "Harrison Bergeron"

“Harrison Bergeron” is a dystopian short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. that takes place in the year 2081. The story was written in 1961 as a satirical response to the claim that everyone should be equal. Taking equality to the extreme, amendments 211, 212 and 213 granted everyone complete equality “every which way.” so that “nobody was smarter or better looking, stronger or quicker than anybody else” (page 1) which is a relatively utopian ideal. They went about enforcing this radical equality in a rather interesting way; by latching certain handicaps to the people according how above average they were. Harrison Bergeron was above the normal intelligence level with the ability to think outside the box, along with a much larger physique than your average Joe and numerous qualities of a handsome man and so he had his fair share of handicaps. He was forced to wear a radio to disrupt his train of thought every twenty or so seconds so that he wasn’t rising above in intelligence. He had to carry a staggering three hundred pounds at all times to weigh him down. To make sure he was just as ugly as the person next to him, he wore a red rubber ball on his nose, shaved off all of his eyebrows and worse black caps to cover his sparkling white teeth.
Foreshadowed from early on, his plans to overthrow the government or at least break the chains of society that bring him and everyone else down to an equal level tell us that being a genius and an athlete, Harrison is the last hope of breaking free from government control. After being susceptible to the most extreme of handicaps that we've seen, surely one of the strongest, most intelligent, athletic and handsome people could surely snap those restricting chains, break free from the Handicapper Generals reigns of oppression. After his escape from being taken away and thrown in jail, our determined Harrison Bergeron was on the verge of successfully carrying out his goals and exploiting what truly is a dystopian society.
He barged into the studio where he “thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness and snapped it like celery. Smashed his headphones and spectacles and flung away his rubber ball nose”. Harrison was finally free. Choosing a fine empress within the studio and removing her handicaps as well revealed a magnificent couple. They were able to  defy the laws of gravity and motion and they “leaped like deer on the moon” (page 4). Dancing together and reaching heights of almost thirty feet things were looking glorious until shortly after we reached our climax. Diana Moon Glampers, the relentless Handicapper General, ran into the studio with a loaded double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun and blasted poor Harrison and his empress out of the air. This is where our beloved protagonist fails, just like they have failed in utopias like Anthem or Brave New World. Failing to exploit the government for what is truly happening is surely an upset.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr has made an excellent approach in addressing some of the results that pure equality would inevitable create in a flourishing dystopian society. It also appears as if he may have predicted the future because whether or not we want to believe it there are some “handicaps” in our world today. The use of social media may be a bigger problem than some people would think. There are so many users logging in daily reading false stories, articles or publications that are posted. People actually believe whatever they see without proper follow up on the topic. This could catalyze a world of lies. It’s sad that some people really will believe anything they see or read online. Who knows what kind of effects that will have on the future of the human race especially since the exposure to this toxic media is spread across the globe.

No comments:

Post a Comment