Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Literature Analysis Essay
Admittedly, literature has a great power over people. Satire is one of the most potent tools of literature. Authors use satire to reveal the wrongs of the society they live in. With the help of satire authors manage to express their opinion on some matters and make people think of essential issues.
Thus, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. focuses on such important themes as equality and control. The author emphasizes that equality can be even dangerous as it may make people vulnerable. Vonnegut creates a very specific society with the help of satire. The author manages to make people think of the essence of equality and possible hazards associated with the society of equals.
According to Vonnegut being equal does not mean being happy, which is one of the major themes of the story. Thus, the times when “everybody” are “finally equal” are not that cloudless (Vonnegut 1). Interestingly, the author stresses that equality is against the nature as different people come into this world. People are different.
Some are “blindingly beautiful” (Vonnegut 4). Some could “have awed Thor” (Vonnegut 4). Some could simply think and understand things. However, the majority of people in Vonnegut’s society have some kind of impediment which prevents them from thinking critically.
Notably, to reveal the theme of differences between people Vonnegut uses a variety of literary tools. Thus, when depicting beautiful ballerinas, he uses epithets “extraordinarily”, “blindingly” beautiful. Vonnegut resorts to an allusion to depict Harrison who could be the leader of the different people.
The author portrays Harrison as an extremely strong person who could be even stronger Thor himself. Mentioning the god of thunder, Vonnegut emphasizes the strength and handsomeness of Harrison. Admittedly, the use of the allusion makes the story more expressive.
Likewise, the author uses quite expressive means to describe the majority of people who have “a perfectly average intelligence”, i.e. people who cannot focus on any important thing (Vonnegut 1). The epithet “perfectly average” is somewhat paradoxical. This contributes greatly to creation of the satirical effect. Of course, one of the most striking depictions of people’s equality in the society was the portrayal of the announcer who “like all announcers” had a “serious” speech defect (Vonnegut 3). Therefore, the author stresses that equality could only mean equal impediments as progress presupposes development and competition.
Nonetheless, people in Vonnegut’s society strive for equality. The author employs various tools to reveal the society in a satirical way. Thus, the author mentions that equality is guaranteed by the Constitution (Vonnegut 1). Of course, it is a biting satire as no man’s law can make people truly equal, especially physically equal.
The author notes that people were kept from “taking unfair advantage of their brains” (Vonnegut 1). It goes without saying that the word “unfair” produces the most satirical effect. The protagonist has to endure constant audio torture. Beautiful people have to wear masks. The author enhances the idea of the deliberate equality with the help of repetition at the beginning of the story:
Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. (Vonnegut 1)
The words “nobody” and “anybody else” are repeated three times to stress the idea that all people should be equal. The writer makes people accustomed to the idea of such kind of complete equality. Remarkably, the idea of the complete equality is itself satirical. The author uses such kind of exaggeration to express his idea concerning impossibility of equality.
The author also uses satire to express his view on hypothetical future. Thus, Vonnegut does not believe people can be equal as diversity is one of the primary characteristic features of the nature. The writer stresses that people can only artificially make people equal by hiding their faces, distracting them from thinking. At the same time, the author believes that there still will be people who can rise.
Harrison is the one. This god-like teenager dares to oppose the order. He inspires someone (one of the ballerinas and some musicians) to become different. Notably, the author portrays the picture of the rise in detail. He also does it quite poetically. The two young people reach the ceiling while performing their divine dance.
Of course, it is not about dancing. The author exploits this symbol (the symbol of soaring) to articulate the idea of divine sparkle in each person. The author suggests that the difference is what makes people strive for something bigger. The difference makes people strive for development. The difference makes people evolve.
Notably, this poetic passage contributes to creation of the satirical effect as well. The soaring of the two beautifully different people is abruptly stopped by gunshots. The two great people are killed by those who strive for equality. What is more, “perfectly average” people simply forget about the soaring and the cruel murder. The author admits that even though it is impossible to make all people equal, it is quite easy to distract people and prevent them from thinking critically. Vonnegut reveals his ideas on the total control.
The author believes that complete equality can only be beneficial for those who want to control nations. The author’s satire is aimed at making people understand that being different is just fine. More so, the author stresses that being different means being free.
It is important to note that the story is not about social or gender equality. It is not about racial issues. The author reveals one of the major wrongs of the contemporary society. The author uses satire to make people understand that they are quite vulnerable. Vonnegut shows that there are attempts to make people think ‘equally’. There are attempts to make people have similar ideas and opinions on this or that matter. Now people are being distracted from really important issues.
Notably, the author uses television as rather a controversial tool. On the one hand, television is one of the tools of distraction. On the other hand, it is used to rebel. Thus, the author believes that media can help people become different and find the truth. However, the author also admits that media are quite potent means of proliferation of certain (‘equal’) ideas. At any rate, Vonnegut creates a hypothetical society which is aimed at making contemporary people think. The author uses satire to evoke strong feelings in people.
On balance, it is possible to state that Vonnegut employs various tools to create a satirical effect. The author uses satire to reveal one of the major wrongs of the contemporary society, i.e. people’s indifference and inability to see what is really important. Vonnegut conveys his ideas concerning equality and control. The writer shows that equality is a kind of premise for total control over people. Therefore, the author notes that being different means being free.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergeron. Ted Nellen, 2012.
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