Harrison Bergeron Themes The key themes in “Harrison Bergeron” space equality versus individuality, the illusion the freedom, and also the prestige of memory.

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Equality versus individuality: The Handicapper General’s policies, and also the subsequent stagnation of society, to mark the threats of focusing on synthetic equality quite than celebrating separation, personal, instance differences.The illusion of freedom: Vonnegut notes that equality and also freedom are not the exact same thing. Also though the characters in the novel are superficially equal, none are important free. The prestige of memory: The story shows that in a culture that suppresses that is citizens’ memories, adjust and development are calculation impossible.
critical Updated ~ above December 11, 2020, through starrkingschool.net Editorial. Word Count: 983

Equality versus Individuality

In “Harrison Bergeron,” kurt Vonnegut gift a culture in i m sorry equality is valued above all else and also attained in ~ the price of individuality. The oppressive and also often absurd ways in which the personalities are equalized through physical and also cognitive handicaps implicitly argue for the prominence of individuality.


Although the story is vital of an equalizing society, it does not simply satirize the target of equality among citizens in heavy-handed terms. Indeed, Vonnegut’s characters express systematic reasons come strive because that a level play field. Chief among these are the eradication the jealousy and also competition. When Hazel suggests that George eliminate some of the lead balls from the weighted bag hung native his neck, he replies by citing the underlying logic that his handicaps. He argues that if citizens began removing their handicaps, “pretty quickly we’d be right earlier to the dark periods again, through everyone competing against everyone else.” Hazel agrees, note that society would “fall apart.” the is ironic the the really handicaps George and Hazel room condoning protect against their conversation native advancing any kind of further. George’s reply—“What would?”—illustrates the stupefying effects of his cognitive handicap.

The story says for personality by showing the repressive impacts of equalization. This repression wake up in small, quotidian ways, such as in George’s artificial handicaps: the bag that birdshot the wears and also the earpiece the emits thought-shattering sound at twenty-second intervals. The story suggests that plenty of citizens re-publishing George’s experience of daily suffering in the surname of wider equality. 

But perhaps an ext importantly, this repression wake up on larger stages, preventing humans indigenous achieving excellence of any kind of kind. This diminishment that excellence can be checked out in the televised dance regimen George and Hazel room watching. Due to the fact that the dancers space all handicapped for your physical gifts—weighed down and also masked—their performance is poor. As George remarks, the ballerinas space “no far better than anybody else would have actually been.” The very same is true the the accompanying musicians, whose benchmark because that “normal” play is “cheap, silly, false.” Indeed, a human being that criminalizes individual gifts and talents is shown to be a people without virtuosity or beauty. Harrison Bergeron represents the apotheosis that this type of repression. The is the most gifted citizen of all—and therefore the many diminished. Because he refuses to quell his individual excellence in the surname of collective uniformity, he loser his life.

The Illusion of Freedom

In the story’s authoritarian society, the right of equality becomes an oppressive weight that all should bear, albeit to different degrees. If the citizens speak favorably of equality, it deserve to be suggested that the driving pressure for this social framework isn’t equality in ~ all. The driving force is are afraid in the type of authoritarian rule, one the negates the flexibility of its citizens.

The story’s citizens generally accept the idea that their society’s vision of equality is preferable to jealousy and competition. Yet this accept doesn’t stem native empathy or compassion—it stems native harsh after-effects in the type of fines, jail time, and also even death. This fear is illuminated once Hazel says that George relieve some of his burden; George refuses, since he would challenge steep after-effects if the attempted to execute so. Because that George, it is much better to be afflicted with his harsh handicaps than to risk shedding the life he at this time has. He has the illusion the choice, however in no method is George actually free to make said choice. Through the government using fear tactics, that is a sinner no issue which selection he makes. Moreover, George cannot develop of any alternative for long, because his very thoughts room limited.

Vonngeut’s story mirrors that while distinction may reason jealousy and competition, without it, society is doomed to confront a monotonous and also controlling truth in which each citizen need to forfeit their straightforward rights. Indeed, what the story’s personalities gain in equality comes at the expense of your freedom.

The importance of Memory

“Harrison Bergeron” illustrates the prominence of storage in social and political life. Memory allows people to learn from history, draw on personal experiences, consider alternative choices, and also ultimately navigate towards a far better future. Vonnegut renders this suggest by reflecting what happens as soon as citizens space stripped that their capacity to remember.

In the society of Vonnegut’s story, citizens are forced through cognitive handicaps come live in a type of eternal existing moment in which they cannot reflect ~ above the past. George and Hazel Bergeron represent typical citizens in this society, and their artificially truncated conversations display the results of the Handicapper General’s efforts to carry all citizens to a short level the cognitive functioning. Due to the fact that of the thought-deterring sound emitted in George’s earpiece—and due to the fact that of Hazel’s typical intelligence—the pair cannot discuss any type of topic in any deep or sustained way.

Their endangered rapport is most noticeable in the story’s last scene. They watch on tv their son’s failed effort to break totally free of his handicaps and also overthrow their society’s authoritarian structure, but they room left with, at most, a vague sense of sadness. What they have actually witnessed carries tremendous significance, because that they have glimpsed the opportunity of a different culture and watched the death of their very own child. And also yet this meaning is never registered, because the event is wiped from your minds nearly immediately. George establish his boy on the broadcast, yet the realization is conveniently deleted native his mind. And also after Harrison’s death, Hazel is left just with the impression of having actually seen “something real sad,” and she admits that “it’s all type of combined up in my mind.” castle cannot learn from the event, since it is automatically subsumed into a forget past. Indeed, George contributes come this erasure of memory as soon as he advises Hazel come “forget sad things.” This exchange illustrates clearly that change is hopeless without memory.

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