Can someone concisely explain Nietzsche's view of human equality in connection with Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron"?

Asked on by elocutus55

1 Answer | Add Yours

dftbap's profile pic

dftbap | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Nietzsche essentially was saying that the main problem with trying to have equality in society is that it produces "a culture which eliminates the conditions for the realization of human excellence." There cannot be true equality. Some will always rise to the top with greater advantages and some will falter.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. (George Orwell)

Even if equality is the goal for a society, Nietzsche does not believe this is possible in light of human excellence. Nietzsche argues that morality is at the center of this matter. In the quest for everyone to be equal, society asks those who are more advanced to slow down, and those who aren’t quite up to speed, to catch up. He theorizes that this will not happen with the human condition or human morality.His view of human morality is that this is beyond human capabilities.

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.

Harrison Bergeron is a character created by Kurt Vonnegut and born as close to perfect as society can expect. In this work of literature, everyone has finally achieved equality.  However, in order to achieve this equality, most people have had to have some type of handicap manufactured or applied to them to level the playing field. Because the society desires equality, the government has those whom are advanced to handicap themselves in some way such that they are a more equal society.

Both Nietzsche and Vonnegut agree that people are not equal; however, neither believe people are encouraged to use their abilities that set them apart from others, yet, at the same time, they are unable to handicap themselves for reasons of "higher morality."


We’ve answered 320,051 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question