Harrison Essay

762 words - 3 pages


"Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a short story and a film that portrays numerous facets of human psychology linked with themes that portray a bleak future for the human species. Among these themes is the importance of individuality, the need for knowledge of one’s history, and the stunning effect that one individual can produce through his vision of the truth. The government in this futuristic world of 2053 has manipulated human intelligence to the point where all persons are required to wear bands that rest on their temples. These bands electronically modify intelligence, effectively increasing or decreasing natural IQs to the point where everyone is average. Obviously, these new ideals have no basis in reality. While equality must be striven for in many aspects, it is the differences between people that comprise the backbone of modern society.

Irony is prevalent in this movie as well. Where Harrison is chastised and mocked for his intelligence, secretly he is being monitored by an agency of highly intellectual individuals that run the country, akin to the "Wizard of Oz." The ironic part is that there is a necessity for highly intelligent persons in this "perfect” society. John Claxton (head of the compound) states that there are certain complexities in dealing with other countries that the average individual in America cannot comprehend. Thus, he possesses the role of the godlike advisor, leading the organization behind the scenes that advises and monitors television, news, the president, and all forms of media accessible to the public. Through interpretation, the viewer realizes that under the false facade of mediocrity, society truly covets intelligence. Unbeknownst to Harrison, the woman that recruits him (with whom he ultimately falls in love) is the daughter of Claxton, named Philippa. She was originally conceived in the compound, where rules expressly forbid children between members. Claxton "pulled some strings," and she became one of the organization’s members. Philippa becomes pregnant by Harrison, and flees. Ultimately, Claxton’s second-hand man performs a lobotomy on her as her punishment. Their child is still birthed, but extenuating circumstances prevent Harrison from realizing this. The final form of irony appears in the scene previously...

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