Harrison Bergeron: Total Equality Is Not Equal to Perfection

In: English and Literature

Submitted By catherinepowers
Words 1172
Pages 5
Catherine Powers
Professor Mary Fahey
English 1B
18 September 2013

Harrison Bergeron: Total Equality is Not Equal to Perfection
Harrison Bergeron, a story written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is set in year 2081 when multiples constitutional amendments have been made to ensure that every single U.S. citizen is entirely equal under the law: nobody is more attractive, more intelligent, or stronger in physical capabilities than anybody else. The theme made clear in this satire is that total equality is not an ideal worth striving for, but a mistaken goal that is dangerous in both execution and outcome.
The U.S. government in this story moves to ensure that no one citizen is in any way superior to another. One aspect of this is in physical aspects: nobody is allowed to be exceptionally attractive, nor are they allowed to be stronger or quicker. Masks are worn over excessively good-looking faces, and bags stuffed with lead balls are worn around the necks of the exceptionally strong so as to slow them down and weaken them. When a news bulletin comes on the television and a ballerina is made to deliver the news, Vonnegut tells us that this ballerina had to have been the best out of all the dancers because “her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men” (233). Ballerinas have always been generally petite women in such that they are skinny and perhaps not as tall as other girls or women. Two-hundred-pound men would crush a ballerina with their strength. In the futuristic society Vonnegut has brought us to, it is necessary to give the same amount of physical handicap to a two-hundred-pound man as a petite little ballerina. While a bag of lead balls may not bother a strong heavyweight man to have tied around his neck, it is dangerous to have one around the neck of a ballerina, as she cannot possibly have the strength or mentality to keep it up and not…...

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