What is Kurt Vonnegut's view on equality?  

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron" examines a futuristic world in which all people have been rendered equal through the use of personalized handicaps for those who excel at a particular quality. Those who are too beautiful must mask their appearance with hideous disguises; those who are too strong must be burdened by immense weights; those who are too intelligent must be impeded by devices that constantly interrupt their thoughts.

Harrison Bergeron, the titular protagonist, is one of those superior individuals who has been handicapped in many horrific ways. After escaping from prison, Harrison takes over a television broadcast and attempts to defy the government's decrees on handicaps, declaring himself the new emperor. However, his "reign" is short-lived, as he is soon shot dead by the handicapper general, Diana Moon Glampers.

Upon reading this story, it is quite evident that Kurt Vonnegut believes that total equality would be a grave mistake—one that would rob the world of individualism and the gifts of many talented people. America has been dumbed down, enslaved, and nullified in this story; its residents are certainly not rendered free by the delusional "leveling" of the playing field that has occurred. The costs of this brand of equality are nothing short of disastrous, with a dictatorship-like government emerging to ensure that the status quo is maintained. Vonnegut is clearly warning readers about this kind of dangerous propaganda and the consequences that enforcing equality would bring about.

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Harrison Bergeron

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