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Harrison Bergeron's rebellion in "Harrison Bergeron" and its implications for his character, values, and representation as a rebel

Summary:

Harrison Bergeron's rebellion in "Harrison Bergeron" reveals his character as courageous and defiant against oppressive societal norms. His actions emphasize his values of individuality and freedom, as he rejects enforced equality. Harrison's rebellion symbolizes the human spirit's resistance to control and the desire for self-expression, making him a powerful representation of a rebel challenging conformity.

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What do Harrison Bergeron's rebellion reveal about his character and values?

Harrison Bergeron is an extremely talented, athletic fourteen-year-old boy who was imprisoned for attempting to overthrow the government. In the short story, Harrison escapes from prison, takes over a news station, and declares that he is the emperor of the United States. After throwing off his handicaps in dramatic fashion, he floats into mid-air with one of the beautiful ballerinas and kisses her before he is shot dead by Diana Moon Glampers. Harrison's rebellion reveals that he is an independent thinker who is willing to take extreme risks to alter the trajectory of his life. Harrison is also depicted as a fearless leader who is passionate about usurping power and ruling the United States as its emperor. He evidently values independence and disagrees with the government's policy, which requires each individual to be completely equal in all facets of life. Harrison's actions also depict his dictatorial nature and authoritative personality. His actions and mindset also validate the government's stance on equality. Overall, Harrison Bergeron is depicted as a determined, authoritative individual who wishes to use his talents and abilities to rule the United States after escaping from prison.

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What do Harrison Bergeron's rebellion reveal about his character and values?

At first Harrison Bergeron was jailed for presumably plotting to overthrow the government. He was accused and deemed a threat because of his above average intellect and physique. Harrison was forced to bear handicaps as dictated by the law, which sought to effectively ensure and promote equality among the members of the society.

Harrison was conceited- He did not marshal the people towards addressing the oppression but instead publicly declared himself emperor. His actions confirmed the need for the handicaps that the government had introduced.

Harrison was a non conformist- He rejected every attempt by the government to control him, up until his death.

He was courageous- He did not try to escape when the Handicapper General arrived to contain the situation during his public display of rebellion. He was willing to die for what he believed in.

Harrison was dictatorial- He intimidated the musicians in the television show to play their best. He did not attempt to negotiate with the musicians and instead displayed some level of corruption when he enticed them with titles if they played well.

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What do Harrison Bergeron's rebellion reveal about his character and values?

The reader knows he is exceptionally strong, intelligent, and good-looking based on his handicaps, at only fourteen years old.

In his television takeover, Harrison is almost a caricature. He removes all of the fortified handicaps as easily as one changes clothes. He also boldly declares himself the emperor and implores “the first woman who dares to rise to her feet [to] claim her mate and her throne.” This quote is honestly ridiculous, even within the context of the story. Based on Harrison’s age, one might suggest that he is performing for the cameras in an over-the-top, nearly comical manner. The studio workers and performers’ fear, however, suggests they believe Harrison is a threatening presence.

As far as his values, one could argue that Harrison is certainly willing to risk his life to stand up for what he believes is right. He is actively protesting the handicapping system in the most public way he can. This bold choice reflects his emotional strength as well. Living in a totalitarian state, Harrison had to have known that his actions would have dire consequences. For Harrison, the reward of exposing the government is worth his life.

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What do Harrison Bergeron's rebellion reveal about his character and values?

In Vonnegut's short story Harrison Bergeron, the titular character rejects the handicaps placed on him by his society's oppressive government, declares himself Emperor, and exhibits his superhuman physical skill on live television. Harrison's actions primarily show his bravery; he very publicly denies the authority of a totalitarian government, breaking several laws by removing each of his handicaps as well as those limiting the ballerina and musicians. Additionally, Harrison is shown to be very confident and strong-willed when he declares himself Emperor, claiming that he is "a greater ruler than any man who ever lived," and begins issuing orders to those in the room with him. Harrison's intelligence and capability are established by the extent of the limitations on his vision and hearing, but further confirmed by his ability to resist even the strongest handicaps. Despite having his abilities restricted on every level, Harrison still manages to concoct a plan of resistance, something no one else in the story manages to do on their own.

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How does Harrison's rebellion reveal his characteristics and values?

Harrison is seven feet tall, extremely athletic, and extremely intelligent. As such, the government and the Handicapper-General have attempted to use the most debilitating handicaps they can think of. In such an oppressive society, it would make sense to encourage and root for Harrison (or anyone) in his rebellion. However, he doesn't use his gifted mind and body to liberate society. He doesn't free others and try to take over the government or revolutionize it. Rather, he goes to a television studio and proclaims himself emperor. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" Instead of using his position to liberate others, he becomes more like a (temporary) dictator. The dancing scene is romantic but it lacks substance. It lacks any real attempt at rescuing this oppressed society. 

We can applaud Harrison's spirit to revolt. And he does free one ballerina and some musicians. But he only does so in order to add to the spectacle of his own ego. The manner of his rebellion shows him to be selfish, only interested in showcasing his power. He, therefore, becomes no better than the government which uses its power to oppress the masses. Once he realizes his great power, it corrupts him. This underscores one of the themes of the story which is that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

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Why does Harrison in "Harrison Bergeron" represent the spirit of rebellion?

Already incarcerated for "suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government," Harrison Bergeron represents the spirit of rebellion when he escapes and enters the television studio where he cries,

I am the Emperor!....Everyone must do as I say at once!....Now watch me become what I can become.

Harrison tears the straps of his handicap harness tossing the devices away.  He smashes his headphones and spectacles against a wall.  He removes all the devices which make him "equal" to everyone else.  His act of rejecting mediocrity is one thing, but his declaration of making himself emperor is another.  This act suggests the ironic theme of corruptive power.  For, Harrison has gone beyond asserting his individual freedom as he rejects social equality forced upon him by handicaps to becoming dictatorial as he declares himself emperor. In "Harrison Bergeron," Vonnegut's satire of the contemporary quota system and social equality as well as the mind control of the media makes the protagonist Harrison a figure of rebellion.

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What prompted Harrison Bergeron's rebellion?

Harrison Bergeron rebelled in the eponymously titled Kurt Vonnegut story to literally and figuratively throw off the chains of mediocrity slapped on him by the Handicapper General and a society that demands equality by reducing each individual to a lowest common denominator. 

Literally, Harrison was greater than the rest of society. He was bigger ("He was exactly seven feet tall"). and had "outgrown his hindrances faster than the g-e men could think them up." In addition, Harrison was more handsome than the rest of society and had to "wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random." And, finally, he was more intelligent and had to, "Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones."

But these handicaps did little for keeping Harrison's desire to show his greatness aside. Instead of him being okay with wearing his handicaps, like his father is, Harrison snaps off his handicaps "like celery" and leaps so high that he kisses the ceiling. 

Harrison represents the desire to rip off the social constrictions placed by a society that rewards conformity, which, by its definition, is a reduction of the self. 

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In "Harrison Bergeron," what does Harrison's rebellion against the government represent?

In Harrison's world, the government has stepped in to try to ensure that everyone is equal, and that no one has their feelings hurt because someone else is prettier, smarter, or stronger than they are.  As a result, everyone is pulled down to the same level of mediocrity, and individuality, progression, creativity, ingenuity and beauty have all been stifled.  Harrison himself represents the mighty beauty and capacity of the human being, and what we can potentially become if left unrestrained and unfettered.  Harrison represents the sheer beauty of mankind's potential--we can do whatever we set our minds to, if people will only let us.  If that "hurts" others because we succeed more than they do, that is a price that is worth being paid to achieve success and progression in a society.  And, people, instead of sitting around feeling hurt, should get up and move on with their lives.

Harrison's rebellion against the government represents not being willing to accept the moral precepts that his government is preaching.  It represents a way of thinking that allows human beings to be individuals, that allows success and achievement, and that refuses to be told by their government how beautiful or strong they can be.  His rebellion represents the inner core of humanness, which is agency, and the right to choose for oneself what path they will take, instead of having it dictated by the government.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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Is Harrison in "Harrison Bergeron" a hero, criminal, rebel, or revolutionary?

One could argue that Harrison Bergeron is all four (hero, rebel, criminal, and revolutionary). Most individuals reading the short story sympathize with Harrison's unfortunate situation and support his decision to escape from prison, cast off his handicaps, take over a news station, and attempt to usurp power over the dystopian version of America. People who support individuality, nonconformity, and independence would view Harrison Bergeron as a hero and revolutionary. They would admire Harrison's courage and would more than likely support his political agenda, which would terminate the agency involved in handicapping talented citizens.

In the short story, agents of the Handicapper General and Diana Moon Glampers would label Harrison Bergeron a criminal and rebel. Also, untalented, unintelligent individuals would more than perceive Harrison Bergeron in a negative light and view him as a criminal and rebel. Overall, people's perception of Harrison Bergeron depends on whether or not they support his efforts to take over the government.

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Is Harrison in "Harrison Bergeron" a hero, criminal, rebel, or revolutionary?

If you were to ask this question to the characters of “Harrison Bergeron,” you would receive very different answers. Harrison would see himself as a hero and revolutionary. Upon taking over the television studio, he proclaims himself emperor and makes it clear that his intention is to overthrow both the government and its draconian laws regarding equality. To Harrison, his actions are justified by the multiple handicaps the government has put on him to dull his intelligence, strength, and natural handsomeness.  

To someone like Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers, on the other hand, Harrison is a criminal and a rebel. To her, Harrison stands against the established order that she represents. Killing Harrison is not only a punishment for his treason, but a public suppression of dissent that sends a clear signal to any would-be Harrisons watching the events unfold on television.

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