Kurt Vonnegut's Short Stories

The Dangers of Equality: A Close Reading of "Harrison Bergeron" College

Many people believe that total equality for any race, sex, or religion is worth the effort. Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” focuses on individuals’ greatest qualities and the altering of them to exceed the average standard. For example, those of higher intelligence were forced to wear devices inhibiting their ability to think. Beautiful citizens were forced to conceal their looks with a hideous mask. Additionally, they were forced to weight themselves to impair their gracefulness. The importance of the story is for the reader to comprehend that the base of any society is for citizens to have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The outcome of attempting to make an “equal” society resulted in citizens living in fear of their abilities. Kurt Vonnegut demonstrates his theme that forced equality is achieved at the expense of freedom and individuality. Vonnegut focuses on the story’s setting, character actions, and imagery to support the theme.

“Harrison Bergeron” has an elaborate setting in a dystopian future that supports his theme. The short story revolves around a couple named Hazel and her handicapped husband George watching ballerinas dance on television. When readers are first introduced to the...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 932 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7487 literature essays, 2119 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in