What is the role of technology in Harrison Bergeron?  

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Technology is present in the story in the form of the "mental-handicap radio" that George is required to wear at all times and the television broadcasts supervised by the government. The radio George wears is "tuned to a government transmitter" that frequently and regularly sends out a "sharp noise" to disrupt George's thinking because George's intelligence is above average and must be controlled. The more dangerous George's thoughts, the more severe the noise pounded into his brain. Sometimes the radio emits a low tone, "like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a bell-peen hammer," but a really dangerous train of thought will earn him "a twenty-one-gun salute." This fact indicates that the government possesses the technology to tell not just that George is thinking but what he is thinking. 

The television broadcasts are controlled strictly by the government. People are allowed to see what the government wants them to see. After Harrison escapes, a police photo of him garbed in all his "handicaps" is shown so that he might be apprehended. When Harrison himself takes over the studio, the chaos is such that television transmission continues, showing Harrison's revolt. After he and the ballerina are both shot to death and order is restored, however, George and Hazel's television set suddenly quits working. Obviously, the government had resumed control.

The role of technology in the story is to emphasize the totalitarianism of the government.

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