How is equality defined in the short story "Harrison Bergeron"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A very timely story, "Harrison Bergeron" indicates with its opening lines how "equality" has been established,

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal...every which way.

By enforced equality, no one is smarter than anyone else; no one is better looking than anyone else; and no one is stronger than anyone else. For, earphones are placed on people's heads to drown out intelligent thoughts with noise; weights are worn by stronger and more athletic people so that they will not excel; and facial disfigurements are placed upon the beautiful. 

This equality, of course, is no real equality since it is enforced with cruel devices and even violence. When Harrison Bergeron, a handsome, athletic genius breaks free from incarceration and attempts a coup, he is shot by the Handicapper General;

Diana Moon Galmpers lcame into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

So, if anyone causes trouble, equality is even enforced by death.

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Harrison Bergeron

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