The short tale of Harrison Bergeron is something that isn’t very new to me. Way back in high school, we were tasked to read this in one of our Literary Circles sessions. I took a quick look at it and particularly enjoyed how short the story was. Today, having finally read a good selection of interesting stories, I decided to take a deeper and much more complete look at it. I can definitely say that despite it being rather short, Harrison Bergeron was a story just oozing in meaning and symbolisms. Harrison Bergeron makes us think twice on just how far we want to go to push for equality.
In 2081, total equality is achieved but at a cost – sacrificing freedom and individual skill and talent. The three main characters also symbolizes different types of people who have different views toward the law set by the Handicapper General. George Bergeron to me was pretty much your average Joe. Despite him being blessed with substantial intelligence, he simply decides to get by and observe all the rules properly, being content with the system and afraid of consequences. Hazel Bergeron on the other hand, was really just an oblivious girl in a place where oblivious and unaware was the new “average”.
She had nothing special to offer, therefore was never even handicapped. Her obliviousness and outright stupidity simply shadows over her kindness and good intentions. And finally, Harrison Bergeron, who was the perfect specimen. He literally had it all, which made the government fear him and did everything in it’s power to contain him. Harrison wanted to showcase his abilities to the world and this ultimately led to his death. With this, we are shown that superiority amongst others will not be tolerated.
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To end, I feel like this story faces us with a dilemma, whether to simply get by, and live with rules and laws that are clearly unfair and wrong or be like Harrison, who is condemned for being the gifted and talent-laden man that he truly was. I’d also like to point out how this story takes on a completely different angle as a slight jab to faulty governments. Vonnegut may just be trying to show us how the government tries to control and ultimately, censor our very thoughts and ideas, hence limiting our potential to grow and become more aware and active with regards to such issues.
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