Absolute Equality In Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

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In “Harrison Bergeron,” the central theme is absolute equality, which has become a plague upon the citizens of the future. Individuals are tortured, forced to wear items that deliberately cause physical and mental pain so as they may not take unfair advantage of their natural abilities. The government monitors and controls the masses, incarcerating anyone who possesses too many talents and murdering those who may exercise their potentiality. Harrison Bergeron, a lone rebel willing to stand against this tyrannical government, is the symbol of self-actualization and accomplishment. With the systemic eradication of competition, Vonnegut’s vision of what “could be” still has relevance today- absolute equality will be the scourge of individual…show more content…
Legislation was adopted in order to make everyone equal, “All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution (Vonnegut 232).” They forced those who were stronger or faster to wear weights to slow them down and those who were beautiful to wear hideous masks. If someone had above average intelligence, he or she were forced to wear an earpiece that would scatter his or her thoughts every twenty seconds by blasting a piercing sound into his or her ear. People's rights were violated in the name of equality, but how can anyone claim equality when to be fair to one group, another must be…show more content…
There is a certain sense of entitlement among some who believe they should just be awarded something merely because they showed up. Vonnegut gives us an example of this when Hazel says, “He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard (Vonnegut 233).” We can see the beginnings of this dystopian future occurring today. Many children sports programs no longer recognize individual achievement and hand out participation trophies to everyone. Psychologists warn that this may actually be harmful, “Mr. Williams said that if young children can’t learn that performance varies by the individual, then they’ll just be harder hit once they reach adulthood and struggle to compete in the business world (Chumley).” Also, many schools are eliminating the accomplishment of Valedictorian, “A growing number of schools in the Valley are abandoning the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian, usually the two students with the top grade-point averages in their senior class (Wang).” Healthy competition brings out the best in people, helping them to push towards accomplishing a goal. For example, the many advancements in technology enjoyed around the world today are the direct result of the peaceful space race between the USA and the former USSR. Those who would eliminate healthy competition are only hurting the development of our children and progress for our

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