At a Glance

  • Harrison Bergeron: a brilliant, handsome fourteen-year old who has been handicapped because of his intelligence and good looks.
  • George Bergeron: Harrison's father, a fiercely intelligent man who refuses to remove his handicaps because he fears that society will return to the "dark ages" of competition.
  • Hazel Bergeron: Harrison's mother, a "normal" person with no handicaps, which in this society means she is unintelligent and unattractive.
  • Diana Moon Glampers: the Handicapper General, a looming figure whose H-G men enforce her Draconian laws. The Handicapper General makes a brief appearance at the end of the story when she shoots Harrison dead. 

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(Short Stories for Students)

George Bergeron
Harrison's father, George Bergeron, bears multiple government-imposed handicaps which repress his ‘‘way above-normal’’ intelligence. He refuses to remove any of them, however, for he believes that any attempt to change the present situation will inevitably cause civilization to regress back into the ‘‘dark ages,’’ when there was competition. George and Hazel, his wife, witness Harrison's rebellious act on television, but afterwards cannot remember why they are sad. George wears birdshot weights and a mental handicap radio in his ear that receives a "sharp noise'' transmission designed "to keep people ... from taking unfair advantage of their brains.''

Hazel Bergeron
Harrison's mother, Hazel Bergeron, does not need to wear any handicaps—mental or physical—as she possesses "normal" intelligence, appearance, and strength. In this story, however, ‘‘normal’’ entails that one is incompetent, or unable to fathom anything beyond that which is superficial. Hazel's dialogue with her husband, George, recalls the comedic team of George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Diana Moon Glampers
Although Diana Moon Glampers, the United States Handicapper General, appears briefly toward the end of the story in order to quell Harrison's rebellion by killing him, her presence pervades the story. As Handicapper General, she ruthlessly maintains law and order without due process. One of the few descriptions of her implies that Glampers herself is not "above normal.''

Harrison Bergeron

(Short Stories for Students)

Although he is only fourteen-years-old, the title character, Harrison Bergeron, stands seven feet tall and possesses an intelligence so immense that, at the beginning of the story, the Handicapper General has Harrison arrested "on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government.’’ Harrison escapes, however, and goes to the television station to publicly declare himself emperor. He selects a ballerina as his empress, and the two begin to dance.'' [N]eutralizing gravity with love and pure will,’’ the couple leap high enough to kiss the ceiling and remain suspended in mid air. At that moment, Diana Moon Glampers, the United States Handicapper General, blasts the couple out of the air with a "double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun,'' ending Harrison's life and his self-declared reign.

Harrison's actions suggest an ironic theme:...

(The entire section is 1,734 words.)