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False Perception Of Equality In Society

1257 words - 5 pages


In Kurt Vonnegut’s story, “Harrison Bergeron,” everyone is made equal by the United States Handicapper Genera1 while the country is under totalitarian control. Handicaps are forced upon the people by the Handicapper General to create an all-equal society. The character George Bergeron is forced to stay equal by the government’s laws of equality while his wife, Hazel Bergeron, is of only average intelligence, and consequently not given a handicap. Their son, however, has broken the laws of equality and is fugitive of the United States Handicapper General. The conflict between the United States Handicapper General and the Bergeron family helps to establish and develop the theme of a false perception of equality.
George and Hazel Bergeron help to establish the theme of the false perception of equality in the society: “George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear” (1200). The handicap radio sends sharp noises ever few minutes to break his thought process. This handicap stops George from having an advantage over anyone in intelligence. George is also forced to wear a handicap bag around his neck to make him weaker: “She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck” (1201). In the eyes of the society these handicaps make him equal. His wife Hazel, however, does not have a handicap that she is forced to wear: “Having no mental handicap herself” she is already average, so there is no need for a physical or mental handicap (1200). The story explains this, “Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts” (1200). Hazel and George are a clear example of why there is a false perception of equality in the United States. George is forced to wear handicaps that make him weaker and unintelligent, but Hazel does not have any extra weight to make her weaker or loud noises in her head to break her thoughts of thinking. This shows that George and Hazel are not really equal because even though George no longer has an advantage over Hazel, she now has an advantage over George. She is not confined by the Handicapper General like he is, but is free to go about her day naturally, while he is confined to an inferior quality of life. This false perception of equality allows for the government to rule without obstruction or protest from their citizens because they are more intently focused on building a community that is better for all and less focused on the tyrant government that now exists in the democratic country. Their son sees this tyranny and causes heart ache for the citizen and the government.
George and Hazel’s son, Harrison Bergeron, develops the theme of the false perception of equality. Harrison Bergeron knows that he is unequal and rebels against the government, so that he can take over and become Emperor: “Nobody had ever borne heavier handicaps. He had outgrown...

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