Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut takes place in 2081 and all people are equal, nobody is stronger than anybody, and nobody smarter than anybody. However, this is not to say that this world is not a dystopia; on the contrary, it is because people wear handicaps that deter them from being too strong, too smart, and even too beautiful. Harrison Bergeron is able to break free, but in the end is killed and perhaps the worst part is that though his parents witnessed it happening, they forgot about it almost instantly.
It is a dystopian work because in this world people are given handicaps such as the weights around the neck of George Bergeron. He is also given a mental handicap radio that sent out sharp noise in order to prevent him from taking advantage of his above normal intelligence. These are things of nightmares if anything because people are given horrible objects that cause them pain and suffering. Carrying around forty-seven pounds around ones neck is surely painful and this is what George Bergeron carried around his neck. Another example, is seen with the ballerina who is given a horrendous mask in order to hide her beauty. Her beauty was only revealed when Harrison Bergeron removed it and danced with her. This story is quite unique because not many dystopian works we have read throughout the semester discuss objects that deter people from being too beautiful, too smart, or too athletic. Most literature we have read focus on serums or leaving the unwanted in a different area in order to make their “utopia” possible.
Though it was only a small part of the story, the Bergeron’s discuss how cheating or removing the weights around George’s neck would sink society into the dark ages. According to them, the dark ages was a time when people competed against one another, and now people do not. It sounds almost as if this was a criticism of capitalism, where everyone is encouraged to compete against one another. The Bergerons’ rather live in a world where competition is not encouraged and where equality is. Then again that is what they have been led to believe, even if they wished to think outside the box, they cannot because of their handicaps.All in all, this was as a good representation of a dystopia, though the goal of the government was to make everyone equal, it simply cannot be achievable. As is seen, the only way to make everyone equal is if they are given handicaps to ensure they are not smarter, stronger, or better looking than their peers. This is definitely a dystopia because people are living their lives with so-called handicaps, which are deterring them from achieving their full potential. A world where people must carry bags of sand around ones neck or wear a mask in order to hide beauty, is surely a dystopian world. I think this was a good story to read, and it is worthwhile because it showcases a world that has gone to an extreme where the government controls people's freedom. People are not free to be intelligent, beautiful, or even strong because the government deems it as a threat. Something I question though is why does George Bergeron not remove that hearing handicap in order to stop forgetting what he is thinking. I understand he does not want to cheat, but if he removed it while at home then he could think and really come up with a plan to change things. Then again, he really believes that if he begins to cheat then society will go back to the “dark ages”.