Dystopia In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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Sean Gillis Professor Montagne ENC 1102.055 9 February 2012 Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s “Harrison Bergeron” tells the story of a stark dystopia in which the Bergeron’s live in. This story, much like George Orwell’s “1984”, creates terrible and unimaginable contrasts to the world we live in today. The world Vonnegut creates shows how the world would be if every man, woman and child was equal via the implementation of “handicaps”. Vonnegut explains, “The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal. . . . They were equal in every which way” (217). Within the first paragraph the author sets the dreary mood by saying that “nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody…show more content…
This world literally does not allow anyone to be stronger than anybody else. The author shows this when Hazel refers “to the forty-seven pounds of bird-shot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck” (218). Even the characters within the story have some questions about the ethical motives around these handicaps. Hazel shows this when she says, “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while” (218). The women aren’t even spared from these huge weights. When watching the bulletin George describes the ballerina: “she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men” (219). Women in our time are seen as petite, and even the most athletic and strong of women typically are regarded as second to men in terms of strength and physique. With the modeling industry dominating society today, the physical standard for women is to be as skinny as possible. It’s hard to believe women and men would find these physical handicaps to be acceptable. Harrison Bergeron presents the most obvious of physical hindrances. The author describes him: “Nobody had borne heavier handicaps” (219). The government basically tries to bolt him to the ground: “Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds” (220). Even the harness of his handicap was “guaranteed to support five thousand pounds” (220). No matter how strong you are, man or woman, there can’t possibly be anyone out there that wants to walk around with scrap metal clanking on them all day

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