Writings #0: Harrison Bergeron

1 minute read


Part 0 in a collection of posts where I’ll give some of my thoughts and analysis on essays, short stories, novels, movies, etc. It is not really anything academic, but purely for me to practice my writing.

Harrison Bergeron

by Kurt Vonnegut

Harrison Bergeron conveys the story of a dystopian world where equality has become the center focus of society. Harrison Bergeron, the young idealist possessing enough talent to warrant extreme handicapping, is the vessel used to portray the consequences of over-zealous equality.

Given human-kind’s bleak past with equality we have a clear image of what rampant inequality looks like. Vonnegut’s tale tells the other side of the story: what happens when we idolize equality too much. What does a society look like where likeness is held in greater regards than individualism and hope?

Unfortunately Harrison’s end is treacherous and nothing favorable can be thought of his parents heartless reaction to his death. Yes, over-equality, if such a thing is possible, is not great. Vonnegut uses hyperbole to convey the resulting loss of individuality, however, real examples can be found in past Communist and Fascist governments. Perhaps Vonnegut was inspired by these falling and rising political factions during the short story’s writing (could look into this).

All being told, it is hopeful that this light hearted short story does not join the predictive ranks of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.

– Daniel Nichols