Why was Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, so afraid of Harrison Bergeron breaking free of his handicaps?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers is a proponent of total equality and is in charge of making sure citizens are completely equal in every way imaginable. Harrison Bergeron is portrayed as a massive, athletic, highly intelligent man, who escapes from prison and takes over a television station. Harrison Bergeron...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

As Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers is a proponent of total equality and is in charge of making sure citizens are completely equal in every way imaginable. Harrison Bergeron is portrayed as a massive, athletic, highly intelligent man, who escapes from prison and takes over a television station. Harrison Bergeron metaphorically represents all talented individuals, who excel in various areas of life. In contrast, Diana Moon Glampers represents untalented individuals, who fear those with natural abilities. She is not only afraid of being superseded or outdone by a more talented individual like Harrison Bergeron, but she also wishes to maintain a stable, controlled society, where everyone is completely equal.

Diana Moon Glampers fears that Harrison Bergeron is capable of overthrowing the government and ruling as a monarch, which would erase her entire life's work as Handicapper General. She also fears that Harrison Bergeron's success will lead to a society where talented individuals are capable of excelling and reaching their full potential.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like any powerful person or group, Diana Moon Glompers is most afraid of things that threaten her power. In this case, Harrison Bergeron represents an existential threat to the empire of "equality" that Glompers has created because he will be able to break down her system. Harrison's immense intellect, coupled with massive physical strength, will be enough to undo a great deal of the harm that Glompers has caused.

Given the clear display of the dangers of forced equality, it is clear that Vonnegut also wants to show the fear that those with lesser talents have when confronted with the real deal. It is difficult for humans to be humble, particularly if they are in positions of power or influence as this tends to emphasize ego and make it more difficult for them to admit weakness. The character of Diana Moon Glompers effectively demonstrates this tendency on the part of humans.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Diana Moon Glampers, who is the Handicapper General of the United States in 2081, must make sure all citizens comply with their handicaps in order to enforce the "211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution." Harrison Bergeron has previously shown that he is unwilling to comply with the forced equality mandated by the United States, so he has been serving time in prison. Hazel and George discuss the reason why not even one person can be allowed to take a break from the handicaps: If someone were to try to get away with it, then others would follow that example, and soon the society would be plunged back into the dark ages "with everybody competing against everybody else." George understands that "the minute people start cheating on laws," society would "fall all apart." The Bergerons have been firmly indoctrinated with this philosophy, perhaps recently in person by the H-G men who arrested their son. Therefore, when Harrison Bergeron openly flaunts his society's rules of equality by tearing off his handicaps on live television, daring the world to "watch [him] become what [he] can become," Diana Moon Glampers must quickly make a public spectacle of him to prevent others from imitating him and embracing their individuality. The society she works for hinges on unquestioning compliance, so she must immediately squelch any rebellious acts before they inspire more people to think for themselves.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on