Equality vs. Individualism
In the futuristic world of “Harrison Bergeron,” the government applies physical and mental handicaps to individuals with above-average strength and intelligence in order to guarantee that all people in society are equal. While equality is often regarded as a positive condition of democratic society, Vonnegut’s dystopian portrayal of an absolutely equal society reveals how equality must be balanced with freedom and individualism in order for society to thrive.
Although in the story all people are…read analysis of Equality vs. Individualism
Media and Ideology
In “Harrison Bergeron,” the totalitarian state regulates the minds and bodies of its citizens to ensure statewide equality. In addition to distributing handicap devices to lower the physical and/or mental strength of above-average citizens, the government maintains equality among citizens through ideologically-charged media that encourages citizens to consent to the invasive practices of the US Handicapper General. By showing propaganda as an equally powerful and invasive force as grotesque physical devices, Vonnegut suggests that…read analysis of Media and Ideology
The Power of the Arts
Though state media insists that Harrison has plans to overthrow the government, his act of rebellion is not a traditional coup: he dances beautifully on national TV with a ballerina whom he has liberated from her handicaps, to music from an orchestra he has also un-handicapped. In other words, Harrison’s dissent is an artistic performance unencumbered by forced equality, which suggests that artists can disrupt state authority through the power of performance.
Before Harrison…read analysis of The Power of the Arts