Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

In the short story, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, He covers the arguments of the need to be equal, this made me angry because that meant people losing their uniqueness and strength of an individual as well as the diversity of a person, which is a negative effect on the society today.


George and Hazel both depict people in society who have lost their ability to think abstractly or even wear for long periods of time. This includes a type of equality that many past generations have fought to have, whether it be woman’s rights, civil rights, gay and lesbian rights. Some who have failed in this fight and others fulfilled partially, but now full equality throughout society, in the year 2081.

Vonnegut said “They weren’t only equal before God and the law, they were equal every which way” In the year 2081 all of society as become equal in every aspect of life. This includes their physical attractiveness, physical strengths and mental intelligence, all equal. Equality is maintained by “handicaps”. For someone who is considered very intelligent, he or she is forced to wear a mental handicap in his or her ear, for someone who is strong is forced to have extra weight attached to them at all times and for someone who is considered attractive must wear a mask to hide their faces.


In one sense the characters George and Hazel clearly show the loss of variety and personal strengths. George has been affected by the loss more than Hazel has. “George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear.

He was required by law to wear it at all times, it was tuned to a government transmitter, every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains” (Vonnegut). George has been forced to wear a device that basically no longer allows him to think. Although the government may think that it’s only fair because other members of society, for instance his wife Hazel, only have average intelligence and it would be “unequal” to have someone in society smarter than them, it actually only makes society worse.


This taught me that in most societies intelligence is encouraged. Intelligent people are able to share intellectual and abstract thoughts with others, which allow society to advance. If everything were equal, there would be no advances or new ideas created because everyone would think the same.


In our society we are still fighting for equality. I wonder if fighting for equality will be so extreme that people will start to fight with attractive people, athletes or doctors and scientists. Maybe people will start to force same education, same payroll because no one is superior in the work space.

I felt that equality is impossible just like Vonnegut argues “there is a need for diversity” and I agree with his statement. We all may have the same makeup but we have different strengths and weaknesses which makes everyone who they are as an individual. feel that society balances off of each other’s strengths and without it we would be flat and average as a whole.

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