The Future Government: Forced Equality Up Close

1335 words - 6 pages

The idea of being forced to be anything less than who you truly are is a cringing thought. Moreover, you should not fear being denied the privilege to excel and become greater than your past. What if you were forced to be equal to the person standing next to you? What if you had no right to be better than the rest of society? In Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut argues that by creating a society full of equality, the suppressed citizens will lose all individuality and self-worth, causing any physical and mental growth to become antiquated.
In Harrison Bergeron, set in the year 2081, changes made to the Constitution cause every American to be equal meaning no one is faster, stronger, or prettier than anyone else. The Handicapper General and other agents enforce the laws and make sure all citizens abide them. The citizens in the society are forced to wear “handicaps” which impair their strengths both physically and mentally. The story rising action occurs when fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron is taken away from his parents George and Hazel. One day, Hazel and George are watch a ballerina TV broadcast when breaking news flashes across the TV. The dancing ballerinas stopped and one of them read the breaking news that Harrison Bergeron had escaped jail. A police photo of Harrison flashes across the screen showing his many handicaps to offset his strength and intelligence. The ballerina warns the other citizens saying, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him” (792). The news bulletin is then interrupted when Harrison himself comes into the studio. Harrison storms the studio saying that he is the ruler and all the other citizens must obey him. After he rips off all of his handicaps, he says in order to rule he needs an empress and one of the ballerinas stands up to take his hand. After the musicians play to the standards of Harrison Bergeron, Diana Moon Glampers comes into the studio and kills the beautiful empress and Harrison. The Bergeron’s TV then goes blank and a noise goes off in George’s head. Hazel opinionates that it sounded like a doozy and he tells her she can say that again, and she says “I could tell that one was a doozy” (794).
Vonnegut believes that the government places a restraint on its citizens by not allowing them to achieve goals to their full potential; however, this forced equality restraint causes the society to stunt in progress. The author states, "And George... had a little mental handicap radio in his ear" (789). Due to his high intelligence level, the government placed a transmitter in George's ear to keep his thoughts from being to intuitive. In essence, the government is not degraded the people of the society but rather restricting the quality of their abilities. The Handicapper General, also called the H-G, uses weighted handicap bags to help everyone remain equal. In reply to her husband, Hazel states "...you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows" and later replies in saying, "I don't care if you're...

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