Harrison Bergeron


Kurt Vonnegut Jr.?s Too Equal Society

The society that the story "Harrison Bergeron" portrays, is one with no passion, no spirit, merely one with no individuality. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. does a great job in satirizing the American political system. Stanley Schatt notices this in his biography of Vonnegut, where he states that Vonnegut writes "political fables that satirize the American political and this country?s relationship with both China and the Soviet Union"(133). The people of this society take the notion equality to a level that could not even be feasible in any person?s imagination. In an attempt to make people equal, handicaps are distributed among people. These handicaps range from little mental handicap radios in more intellectual people's heads to metal or other heavy foreign objects to slow the stronger people. With these handicaps the people are unable to do things that might be simple without the handicaps. This attempt at equality that comes about, makes America a dictatorship rather than a democracy. It also lowers the quality of living in America along with the competition level that America has with the rest of the world. Besides, there is no possible way to make everyone equal in everyday life. Without individuality, there would not be any free thinkers and no dreams to accomplish anything special. Vonnegut uses satire to mock the American political system.
The idea of the American political system being compared to that of the China?s and Soviet Union?s is meaning how the system is much like that of a dictatorship. This is true since there is a head person, this person being the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers. Diana Glampers is the one to decide what the standard is for a person to be handicapped in any way. The only thing though, is that she must have at least a clear thought process with no interruptions of painful, loud sounds in her head. If this country is America, then how could she or the group that may be supporting her not have handicaps also? This thought contradicts the thought of democracy in America. Even the thought of how this individual was able to come to be the "Handicapper General" in America, is assuming that there was some type of take over or manipulation of the people in America. Equality of everyone with handicaps with a few without handicaps is more of a dictatorship than a democracy.
In "Harrison Bergeron" the political system has taken the "Declaration of Independence" and attempted to intertwine it with the Constitution. This however is not possible, since the "Declaration of Independence" was written in ridding the new Americans of the hold that the English had on them. The Constitution was written to have laws and order in the country. The "Declaration of Independence" speaks of "All men are created equal...", this is saying that in the eyes of the law everyone is created equal. The people in this society have taken it to the extreme, having it mean that everyone is equal in all aspects of life to accompany equality in the law. The Constitution started with amendments that gave every citizen certain rights that could not be taken from him or her. This society took those amendments and added to them to make everyone equal in all areas of life. This society shows that writings of a country that were written at different times in history for different purposes are not meant to be intertwined.
The people have to be applauded for trying this hard to make everyone equal in every aspect in life, but they actually failed at doing it. Even with two hundred and thirteen amendments to the Constitution, they failed. The people forgot a few things that make people very different and not equal. They forgot color, sex, and who is going to make sure things get taken care of to their list of things to make people equal. Color has been proven since the earliest of times to make someone seem unequal. Slaves, for example, were primarily black people. Since the slaves were black, when slavery was abolished the freed black people had a very long, rough time before they started getting the least bit of respect. The sex of a person still today may effect how that person is thought about and treated. Women were always expected to sit at home, cook, clean, and raise the children, while