Harrison Bergeron As An Example Of Futuristic Literature

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the futuristic short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, he details the brutal measures by the government to achieve total equality by administering handicaps to individuals with above-average strength or intelligence. Using figurative language such as hyperboles and similes, Vonnegut satirizes extreme equality and reflects the value of individualism through the protagonist, Harrison Bergeron.

The exaggeration using hyperboles in “Harrison Bergeron” provokes the satirical nature of total equality through its absurdity using Harrison Bergeron’s individuality to do so. The short extract is taken out of the story just after Harrison has escaped from jail, he is the only character in the short story that dares to defy the government. In the extract, Vonnegut conveys, using these examples of hyperboles, that Harrison is capable of defying the law through demonstrations of his individuality and being a non-conformist. The whole first paragraph “Clanking, clownish, and huge… cowered on their knees expecting to die” is hyperbole to explain just how intimidating Harrison and how extreme his handicaps are. Vonnegut exaggerates the handicaps put on the people to show the effect of absolute equality on the people and society. He also exaggerates Harrisons, a 14-year-old, size, he portrays Harrison as a large intimidating man which represents society’s fear in individualism. Harrison, in the beginning, shouts „I am the Emperor!“ which is clearly an exaggeration as he is not actually an Emporer but rather just a 14-year-old boy, Vonnegut uses this phrase to express Harrison as an individual as well as powerful because an emporer is a single individual ruler with all the power as opposed to a government. Harrison also made this outrageous claim to convey that he is exceptional as an individual, so much so that he can rule all these people.

Vonnegut uses similes throughout this short extract to show that Harrison Bergeron is the symbol of individuality, saying that Harrison achieves impossible heights when he is free from his handicaps which symbolize conformity. The author uses similes to express the ease with which Harrison can get rid of his handicaps using phrases such as “Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper” and “the bar snapped like celery” which also represents how Harrison, an individual can overcome the conformity and government control, and that he is mentally and physically stronger than it. Another simile Vonnegut uses is towards the end, “they leaped like deer on the moon” which is used to demonstrate that once free from his handicaps or free from conformity, he can achieve new amazing heights literally and metaphorically.  


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