Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron Essay example

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Equality's Dark Side in In Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron

The goal of countless societies throughout human history has been to establish both complete freedom and absolute equality. However, this goal is, by its very nature, unachievable. These two ideal states cannot coexist in their most perfect forms. Also, the perfect forms of either freedom or equality represent total chaos or total oppression, respectively. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” we see the consequences of sacrificing freedom for perfect equality. Vonnegut uses the story of this utopia gone wrong to demonstrate that a society in which total equality exists is not only oppressive, but also static and inefficient. He makes this point using his futuristic
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In the case of “Harrison Bergeron,” this is represented by Diana Moon Glampers. She is never portrayed as having any handicaps and must be assumed to have a level of intelligence above that of Hazel, who represents what this society calls normal, to carry out her job. Societal changes do not happen over night. If people’s freedom were taken away in one fell swoop they would fight it. Instead, oppression is a series of small losses of freedom. It’s like the old analogy of a frog and boiling water. If you drop a frog in boiling water, he jumps out, on the contrary, if you put a frog in cool water and slowly raise it to boiling, he boils to death. This process is shown in the story by the fact that “All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution” (243). Given that this story was written in 1961, is set in 2081, and is the author’s prediction for the future of his society, we can assume that this process of making everyone equal through oppression took place over a 120 year period. Some would argue that, although we’re not to this level of oppression yet, we’re well on our way with institutions such as affirmative action. Whereas equality is sometimes the will of the governed people, this is often not the case. People like to be rewarded for doing things that are above and beyond average. If they can do a better job and make more money than next person, they believe they should be allowed to. Even the below average of
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