Equality's Dark Side In The Uknown Citizen And Harrison Bergeron

1808 words - 7 pages

When Society is too Equal in The Uknown Citizen and Harrison Bergeron

W. H. Auden's poem entitled "The Unknown Citizen" and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s short story entitled "Harrison Bergeron" is a portrayal of a conflict between individualism and government control. Auden's "The Unknown Citizen" is a government's view of the perfect modern man in an unrealistic society. Similarly, Vonnegut presents in "Harrison Bergeron" a scary and destructive view of the United States government in the future where all citizens are uniform. In both "The Unknown Citizen" and "Harrison Bergeron" the government has manipulated human intelligence to the point that the government ultimately has total control over everyone's lives and minds. The motive behind the portrayal of an equal society is that it will eliminate hatred, envy and war. While this does prove true, the numerous side effects such as loss of identity, lack of originality, and loss of personal feelings begin to arise. The attempt to create an equal society to the extreme makes the United States government more like a dictatorship or communist system rather than a democracy. The satiric society depicted in "The Unknown Citizen" and "Harrison Bergeron" is the authors' attempt to mock a political system that tends to depersonalize its citizens and constantly strives to create equality. Auden and Vonnegut prove that the government is too controlling and as a result our individuality is lost.
The people of the society portrayed in the stories take the notion of perfection and equality to the extreme. In "The Unknown Citizen", the Auden uses sarcasm to express an obsessive and mindless state that only know its citizens by numbers and letters, and evaluates their worth with statistics. The ideal citizen is suppose to be "One against whom there was no official complaint [and] in everything he did he served the community" (Auden 5). The idea that a perfect modern man is not supposed to have any complaints and to serve the community suggests that the state want its citizen to work for the benefit of the state, not the individual. The fact that nothing should be questioned or complain about the ideal citizen shows obedience to the state. Similarly, in "Harrison Bergeron" the "perfect" society is one where all citizens are equal not only under the law but also equal in all aspects of living as well. In an attempt to make people equal, handicaps are distributed among people. These handicaps range from little handicap radios in more intellectual people's head to bags of leads to slow the faster down to masks for the beautiful people. Everyone is supposed to be average except for those who works for the Handicap General that regulates the lives of the citizens. During the time period that "The Unknown Citizen" was written, in the late 1930's, Americans were issued Social Security cards, each with a personalized numbers. The government only knows its citizens by these numbers. From then on, the...

Find Another Essay On Equality's Dark Side in The Uknown Citizen and Harrison Bergeron

Dehumanization in Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron."

746 words - 3 pages Dehumanization in Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron.""The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal," the story begins. "They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal in every which way"(1354). In this haunting story, Vonnegut probably wanted to warn our society of similar kind of equality, equality that can be fatal for human race. In this work the theme is only a minor feature and is not really developed. The idea

Social Independence and Prejudice in Harrison Bergeron and V for Vendetta

1749 words - 7 pages Harrison Bergeron is a story that depicts a society whereby everyone is equal mentally, physically and socially. The people were forced to wear handicaps, masks, weights and headsets in order to be equal with each other in the society. V for Vendetta is a 2005 action packed film by James McTeigue which presents a society that is controlled by the government. The film and the story present dystopian societies and both are stories of the future

Welcome to the Monkey House, Harrison Bergeron, and Slaughterhouse-five, by Kurt Vonnegut

1359 words - 5 pages soldier in WWII during firebombing of Dresden corrupted his mind and enabled him to express the chaotic reality of war, violence, obsession, sex and government in a raw and personal manner. Through three works specifically, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” “Harrison Bergeron,” and Slaughterhouse-five, one can see ties to all the chaotic elements of Vonnegut’s life that he routinely satirized. One can also see how Vonnegut’s personal experiences

The Dark Side

716 words - 3 pages changed how trainers are able to interact with the whales. Now trainers are entertaining on stages with lights and fireworks, versus doing acrobats off the whales. The second part is the photographers attempt to draw in the reader, is the subtitle, “SHAMU and The DARK SIDE of KILLER WHALES IN CAPTIVITY.” The font is in all caps as if its screaming to the reader to look at the logos, or the logic of whales in captivity. The light blue font

The Dark Side

792 words - 4 pages success, and we’ve been praising and protecting them ever since. We have been teaching our children to feel good about themselves even when they have done nothing special to feel good about. The overall belief that if we increase self-esteem among society it will increase the goodness in society is a nice thought but it lacks the evidence proving so. Low self-esteem has been the blame for many issues of today’s times. However, others believe that

The Dark Side of Media is about how media portrays men and women in today's society.

1296 words - 5 pages The media has always been the main source of information in today’s society. From the news to the internet, we are constantly only a click away from finding out news to the internet; we are constantly a click away from finding out what’s happening in the world. Unfortunately, the media is also infamous for sending out the wrong message to the public. This “dark side” of the media tries to convince people to be something that

Exploring the Dark Side of Human Nature in The Killers

2277 words - 9 pages Exploring the Dark Side of Human Nature in The Killers        Hemingway's "The Killers" illustrates that unexplained violence is an integrated part of society.  To acknowledge the cruelties of life is to come to terms with horrifying events that can not be denied.  A person may lack the maturity to cope with everyday life if they do not realize that evil can exist in any given society.        The story is told in the objective

Bright And The Dark Side Of The Family

596 words - 2 pages really affecting their success in school. With the depression because of failure in school, they started to argue with each other. Eventually they were divorced. They are still in the university, trying to graduate after five years.Sometimes marriage looks easy from the outside to new couples, but when they get into it, they see the dark side of it and start struggling. New couples do not see the reality of the marriage and being a family. They

The Dark Side of Humanity Exposed in Robert Frost's Poetry

997 words - 4 pages The Dark Side of Humanity Exposed in Robert Frost's Poetry Robert Frost is often referred to as a poet of nature. Words and phrases such as fire and ice, flowers in bloom, apple orchards and rolling hills, are all important elements of Frost's work. These ‘benign' objects provide an alternative way to look at the world and are often used as metaphors to describe a darker view of nature and humans. In Frost's poetry, the depth is as

Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" -- A story symbolic of the oppression inherent in society, and the depths to which it pervades our lives through the media, politics, and popular culture.

1494 words - 6 pages met; rather, they are made to seem the victims of those above them, who are subsequently punished.The voice of "Harrison Bergeron" is the voice of an average citizen, offered to us mostly through the dialogue between Harrison's parents. Their conversations are simple and uninsightful, revolving mainly around television in front of them, with intermittent remarks about the government whose seemingly radical practices have become acceptable and

The dark side of Australia

639 words - 3 pages Silje Knutsvik Kalleberg 1STA St. Olav 24. April 2013The dark side of AustraliaAll around the world there are a lot of different people and cultures. By traveling to different places, we learn more about these cultures as well as we often become a more compassionate person. We see things through other perspectives and this makes it easier to understand the backgrounds for why people live and act in different ways. Sometime just reading a story

Similar Essays

Equality's Dark Side In In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

1443 words - 6 pages Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron The goal of countless societies throughout human history has been to establish both complete freedom and absolute equality. However, this goal is, by its very nature, unachievable. These two ideal states cannot coexist in their most perfect forms. Also, the perfect forms of either freedom or equality represent total chaos or total oppression, respectively. In Kurt Vonnegut’s

Utopia And Dystopia In Harrison Bergeron And The Lottery

1479 words - 6 pages exploits into an exaggerated worst-case scenario. The short stories, Harrison Bergeron, and The Lottery, are both literary examples imparted around a utopian society. Harrison Bergeron, was written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1961. This story elucidates a dystopian society that is derived of its individuality and is expected to conform to authorities. The Lottery, is a short story written by Shirley Jackson that was published in June, 1948 and exerts a

Surveillance In Foucault's Panopticism And Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

1800 words - 7 pages Surveillance in Foucault's Panopticism and Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron Ever feel as though someone is watching you? You know that you are the only one in a room, but for some reason you get an eerie feeling that you are not alone? You might not see anyone, but the eyes of a stranger could be gazing down on you. In Foucault's "Panopticism," a new paradigm of discipline is introduced, surveillance. No one dares to break the law, or do anything

Examination Day And Harrison Bergeron Essay

705 words - 3 pages Sadaf Malik10/20/14Block 1Compare and Contrast ParagraphThe short stories "Examination Day" by Henry Seslar and "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, both examine the idea of a world where governments have total control over its citizens. The main characters in the stories are Dickie Jordan and Harrison Bergeron. In "Examination Day" discrimination against intelligence is portrayed through Dickie who is eliminated because his "intelligence