Research for Literature Analysis

Harrison Bergeron – Research for Literature Analysis
By: Tanmay & Bhaash
"Harrison Bergeron" was originally published in 1961, by Kurt Vonnegut. Various adaptations have been made in
recent years. Kurt Vonnegut was an American author with an extremely successful career in writing that spanned over
50 years. He was enlisted in the U.S. military and was captured by the Germans during WW2. The time period had a
tremendous impact on the creation of the story. During the 1960s, many egalitarians felt that various events such as
the construction of the Berlin Wall, went against their equalitarian views. “Harrison Bergeron” was written as a form
of satire, to mock those individuals’ views that everybody should be equal in all aspects.
Elements of the Plot
Exposition- The exposition occurs in the first paragraph, where the author describes the setting, time period and recent
amendments that have shaped their society. The story takes place in the year 2081, where everyone has been equalized,
through the use of handicaps. The exposition continues to the second paragraph, which describes the major characters
of the story.
Inciting Incident- The inciting incident takes place when Harrison appears on the news set, shocking the individuals
inside the room. George recognizes the identity of his son but is immediately zapped by the handicap, ceasing the
thoughts existence.
Rising Action- The rising action happens when Harrison removes his handicaps and selects a ballerina to be his
empress. Harrison then proceeds to remove the singer’s handicaps and kiss the empress in the air.
Elements Cont.
This story takes place in 2081, in a society where everyone is supposedly equal through the use of handicaps that limit
a person’s abilities. Nobody is smarter, stronger, or better in any facet than anyone else. George and Hazel’s son,
Harrison, has been arrested due to his vast amount of abilities. George is intelligent, but is limited by his handicap,
while Hazel has average intelligence. As his parents are watching ballerinas on television, Harrison shows up on the
news. The news states that he is a threat to society and describe him as an athlete and genius. Harrison suddenly
appears on the news set and removed his handicap. He chooses a ballerina to be his empress and removes the singer
handicaps. He kisses the empress and levitates but is shot down along with the ballerina. The story ends with his mom
crying, not realizing the impetus behind this due to the handicaps limiting her mental capabilities.
Harrison Bergeron Analysis
Theme Analysis
The protagonist, Harrison Bergeron, changes from an individual held back by handicaps that have been placed on him,
to one that possesses a massive amount of talents. However, Harrison doesn't change much in terms of personality, as
the story doesn't describe Harrisson’s inner thoughts and feelings, leaving the reader to infer that facet of him. The
other characters in the story are flat and static and are not well develop in the story.
Both situational and dramatic irony occurs within the story. Situational irony occurs when the author describes the
lives of talented individuals in society. People would expect Harrison, an extremely talented being, to be highly valued
in society. Instead, a stark contrast occurs in the novel. Harrison is considered to be a negative in society and is inflicted
with “scrap metal [that] [hangs] all over him” (Vonnegut). Another form of situational irony is the failure of the
government in containing Harrison. With all the handicaps Harrison possesses, one would expect Harrison to no longer
be able to function. Instead, Harrison is as strong as ever, made evident when manages to “[tear] the straps of his
handicap harness like wet tissue paper” (Vonnegut). The dramatic irony occurs when his parent watch Harrison on
television. Hazel begins to cry and is unable to remember the cause, but the reader knows that the impetus behind her
sorrow is the demise of her son.
Climax- The climax of the story is when Harrison and the dancer are shot by the armed guards that were after them.
While in the air, they are shot, and die before they hit the ground.
Falling Action- The falling action is when the TV burns out, leaving Hazel to comment about the blackout to George.
Conclusion-This story concludes with Harrison’s mom crying, not realizing that her son had died before her eyes.
George tells her to forget sad things, to which Hazel replies that she always does.
Background Information
The central idea of this story is that everyone should have equal rights, but attributes such as strength, intelligence,
and beauty should be different as that is what makes people unique. The government in the story enforces a strict
regime, that forces the more talented to hide their natural gifts, in order to make everyone “equal”. This forced equality
has a wide array of problems, and “some things about living still [aren't] quite right” (Vonnegut). George begins to
realize that this equality is merely a facade and begins “toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn't be
handicapped”, allowing them to express their beauty and uniqueness (Vonnegut). The author also stresses the point
that when people are free to express their talents, they are the happiest. This is shown when Harrison takes the
handicaps off himself and the dancer, allowing them to accomplish amazing feats and experience true bliss for the
first time.
The central conflict in this story is man versus society. The man in this story is Harrisson, an individual who faces off
against the government currently in place. The government and Harrison have two opposing goals, causing them to
clash. Harrison wants to be free and have the right to express his talents, while the government wishes to limit the
skills that set people apart. Harrisson is limited by the government, who have placed various handicaps to make
Harrison’s life harder. Although “nobody had ever born heavier handicaps”, Harrison shows great resilience, and
“[outgrows] the hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up” (Vonnegut). Harrison clearly wants to be
free and manages to accomplish this for a brief moment. However, when the government catches wind of this, they
end the conflict by killing Harrison, thereby ending his rebellion.
K, T. (2015, December 14). Harrison Bergeron Literary Analysis(Rep.). Retrieved December 22,
2018, from Prezi website:
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