What does Vonnegut seem to say about individuality in "Harrison Bergeron"?

The handicap of the world's smartest man is that he can only think out loud, screaming to himself. The handicaps of the world's most beautiful woman are that she must wear a mask and dark glasses on all occasions. The handicaps of the world's strongest man are that he must wear weights on his feet and hands as well as earphones that play loud music. It might be argued that there is no great importance in being smart, strong, or beautiful, but it is clear from the story that Vonnegut finds these qualities important. This is why even Diana Moon Glampers, who has been disfigured by having her ears cut off and her nose filled with putty to make her face perfectly "average,"

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In "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut suggests that equality achieved by means of violence can be no true equality; moreover, without superior individuals in a society, there can be no advancements made in a culture.

Vonnegut's message about individuality is that it must be fostered because there are dangerous forces in...

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In "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut suggests that equality achieved by means of violence can be no true equality; moreover, without superior individuals in a society, there can be no advancements made in a culture.

Vonnegut's message about individuality is that it must be fostered because there are dangerous forces in a society that wishes to exert control upon all its citizens even with the best intentions. Certainly, the society of Vonnegut's narrative is forcibly mediocre so that no one is a threat to others or to the governing powers. This safe mediocrity is achieved with masks and other disfiguring devices placed on beautiful faces, as well as cruel handicaps that either weigh down the agile and athletically superior. Intelligent and creative thoughts are stifled through painful jolts of loud, discordant noises that scatter ideas. Furthermore, if these means are not effective, then those who would yet exert their individuality are imprisoned.

It is disturbing that Diana Moon Glampers bears a close resemblance to Hazel Bergeron, who is so perfectly "average" that she does not wear one single handicap. That she is the Handicapper General suggests that Glampers resents anyone who has more talent or intelligence than she; therefore, she makes certain that these people are controlled. Moreover, she is not opposed to exerting this control through violence. For, when Harrison breaks into the television station, the ultimate media of mind control, Glampers fires a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun twice, killing both Harrison and the beautiful ballerina.

Vonnegut leads the reader to wonder when people are all forcibly reduced to the mediocre level of Diana Moon Glampers, who will be a real leader, an inventor, an artist, a composer, or a scientist who finds a cure for a disease? 

 

 

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