Equality: The Impossible Goal In Harrison Bergeron, By Kurt Vonnegut

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Equality: The Impossible Goal What would society be like if everyone were absolutely and totally equal in every way? What would life be like if no one person was smarter, stronger, or more physically attractive than another person, and was just the same as everyone else? Kurt Vonnegut explores this prospect in his short story “Harrison Bergeron”, as the reader is taken to the year 2081 where every citizen is equal in every way. George and Hazel Bergeron are two citizens living in this society. One night in 2081, George and Hazel are watching a ballet on television when the program is interrupted with an urgent message from the government: Harrison Bergeron, George and Hazel’s extraordinary son, has escaped from prison. Harrison himself then …show more content…
Vonnegut uses his characters to represent his theme. For instance, Harrison embodies the free spirit of Americans and the limitlessness of human potential. Mere amendments and government officials to enforce “equality for everyone” cannot limit Harrison’s potential and his extraordinary talents. “’Even as I stand here-‘ he bellowed, ‘crippled, hobbled, sickened- I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become’” (220). Harrison realizes and utilizes his potential, and refuses to let anyone stop him. Vonnegut uses Harrison to symbolize the theme that true equality can never be achieved. Despite all of the efforts of the Handicapper men and the government, Harrison defies them and breaks free; he shows the people that he is equal to no man, that he is the greatest and can become even greater. Vonnegut also uses the handicaps to symbolize the theme- that true equality is not only unattainable, but also dangerous. “Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness… smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall… flung away his rubber nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder” (220). The handicaps symbolize the oppression that is placed upon the people. It weighs them down (literally) and hinders them from becoming what they can be. However, residing deep inside, past these handicaps, lays a fountain of human potential just waiting to be tapped into. The people are being forced, weighed down to submission by these handicaps. Vonnegut uses symbolism to illustrate his theme in this short

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