Harrison Bergeron Character Analysis

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The Virtue of Virtuosity

“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is about a fictional time in the future where everyone is forced to wear handicapping devices to ensure that everyone is equal. As the story begins, George and Hazel Bergeron are sitting on the couch watching television. George is intellectually superior so every few seconds a raucous noise is played in his ear to keep him from being able to hold a consistent thought, which happens continuously throughout the story. This system of “handicappers” is overseen by a rather unsympathetic woman named Diana Moon Glampers. As George and Hazel are watching a ballet on the T.V., the show is interrupted by a bulletin warning viewers that Harrison Bergeron, George and Hazel 's son, has
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Harrison 's character is round even though his part in the story reveals a person who has been reduced almost to a simple caricature. The reader is able to infer, however, that he is still a relatively complex individual and his present state is the result of his treatment by the “handicappers.” A short time before the events of the story take place, Harrison was removed from his home by “H-G men” and taken to jail for “plotting to overthrow the government” (Vonnegut 12), though what exactly this entailed is not made clear. Harrison clearly did not accept this fate or his “handicappers,” as the reader discovers when he appears on the scene of the ballet after escaping from jail. He appears to be slightly unhinged by his treatment however, as he tears the door off it 's hinges as he enters and starts bellowing “I am the Emperor” and “Everyone must do what I say at once” (Vonnegut 10). He seems to really believe this, as he shows little concern for the danger of his situation and even tells the musicians “Play your best and I 'll make you barons and dukes and earls” (Vonnegut 12). He also seems intent on making a demonstration since, rather than escape and hide, he decides to appear at a ballet that is being broadcast on television. He seems possessed of the purpose to “show the people the meaning of the word dance” (Vonnegut 12), and by doing so demonstrate the virtue of virtuosity, and by contrast the perils of outlawing expertise. Harrison is a
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