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What is Vonnegut's primary tool in creating "Harrison Burgeron?"

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madmarticus | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:31 AM via web

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What is Vonnegut's primary tool in creating "Harrison Burgeron?"

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 7, 2011 at 5:41 AM (Answer #1)

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Herrison Bergeron is a 1961 short Dystopian story by Kurt Vonnegut. It deals with the forced equalization of all humanity by bringing smarter, capable, or talented people down to the level of those without such gifts. It has been filmed four times.

In writing the story, Vonnegut drew on his experience as a satirist to create a world where the stigmatization of achievement has come to be the law of the land.

Nobody was any smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.

The notion that equality is something that can be forced on people instead of something that should be worked for and achieved on merit was a common idea during the Cold War as a criticism of Communism, and it remains a facet of various ideologies today; notably, Objectivism and Minarchism. Vonnegut took the idea to its extreme, pushing every facet of a forced equality to absurd heights, and in doing so illustrated the superiority of the Individual vs. the Collective. While he has been criticised for over-simplification, the story remains a classic in Dystopian literature. Vonnegut's role as satirist is to draw attention to absurdity by being absurd; the theme of the story is more about governmental control of the individual than it is a realistic possible future. Satire is a powerful tool when used correctly, and the fact that Harrison Bergeron is not only taught in literature courses but even used by lawyers in court shows the lasting impact of the work.

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