Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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 She is not only afraid of being superseded or outdone by a more talented individual like Harrison Bergeron, but she also wishes to maintain a stable, controlled society, where everyone is completely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.

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kapokkid eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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.

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