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The Dangers Of Total Equality In “Harrison Bergeron”

910 words - 4 pages

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s “Harrison Bergeron” tells the story of an unbelievably talented young man that defies the constraints of total equality in futuristic America, year 2081. Because of the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments, all citizens are subjected to a communist like state where everyone is made to be equal in beauty, physique, and intelligence. Throughout “Harrison Bergeron,” symbols such as Harrison’s defiance of the law, his physical attributes, and the setting presents the theme of the story as the idea that total equality would be disastrous.
Harrison’s defiance against the government symbolizes the rebellious nature of many people everywhere and in every time period. Harrison ...view middle of the document...

For a government to force total equality on its citizens is unreal, because of all these differences. To enforce handicaps on people’s intelligence means that no one can make progress in any field of study. There would be no new technology or new foods. The country would suffer because no advances would be made. To enforce handicaps on one’s physical abilities would undermine all sports. No one would want to watch or compete in a sport where everyone was perfectly equal. There would then be no winner. Athletic events would be endless games resulting in ties. To enforce handicaps on beauty takes away a person’s God given individuality. If one were not allowed to show their beauty in a beauty contest then there would be no clear winner. All clothing models would look the same. Individuality would cease to exist.
Equally, the historical period in which “Harrison Bergeron” occurs is symbolic because the idea of such outrageous equality would never truly happen in this day and age. The story is set in the year 2081. It opens with, “everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else” (1). Because America already shows a few communist characteristics arising, the story almost becomes plausible as a future look on American society. The setting is a symbol for what could possibly be coming in America if the country continues in the route that it is going. However, there are so many people that pride themselves on their unique individuality that it is more likely that this kind of radical change could never take...

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