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Satire in Harrison Bergeron

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Katelyn Shadowens

on 18 February 2014

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Transcript of Satire in Harrison Bergeron

Kurt Vonnegut's Satirical Tone in
Harrison Bergeron

Context in Time
Kurt Vonnegut wrote “Harrison Bergeron” during the Civil Rights Movement.
This goes along with the theme of equality because Vonnegut was witnessing a world where everyone was desperate for equlity. “Harrison Bergeron” is the way he chose to express his view on the matter.

Harrison Bergeron
“Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is a satirical short story. It is set in an american Utopia during the year 2081, and “everybody was finally equal, (Vonnegut 1)." The protagonist is Harrison Bergeron, and he faces an external conflict of man vs. society due to this equality. In order to keep everyone equal, there is a General Handicapper who distributes handicaps to people she deems too powerful in any way. The handicaps are things like weights or devices that send sounds like gunshots through a transmitter to distract their wearer. Harrison is smart, handsome, and strong. In result, his handicaps are extensive and borderline ridiculous.
Satirical Tone in
Harrison Bergeron
“All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General (Vonnegut 1).
Harrison Bergeron
Summary Cont.
The climax in the story is when Harrison tears off his handicaps and proclaims himself “emperor” (Vonnegut 3). He escapes his society and changes from a conformist to a rebel. All the while, George and Hazel, his parents, are watching from their living room. Hazel watches as the General Handicapper kills her son and his empress, but her “perfectly average intelligence” (Vonnegut 1) makes it so that she can’t tell George what happened when he asks. They choose to forget the incident, and quickly move on to talk about the noise George’s handicap last made.
How Hyperboles Support the Satirical Tone
Harrison as a character is essentially a hyperbole.
“The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware (Vonnegut 3).”
“He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder (Vonnegut 4)."
How Dramatic Irony Supports the Satircal Tone

“They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in (Vonnegut 1).”

Katelyn Shadowens and Valerie Green
Harrison Bergeron's Handicaps
The author's attitude towards the literary work.

The tone in “Harrison Bergeron” is sarcastic and satiric.
Dramatic Irony as a Literary Term
Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something the characters do not.

There is a large example of dramatic irony in “Harrison Bergeron.” It is the fact that the characters, especially Hazel and George, believe they are living in a perfectly equal world, but the reader can see the examples of inequality.
Satire as a Literary Term
Satires are works of literature meant to mock the subject of the piece.

Satire in
Harrison Bergeron
is reinforced by other elements of literature such as tone, irony, and hyperboles.
A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration.

The exaggeration in “Harrison Bergeron” fuels the satirical nature of the story through it’s absurdity. Vonnegut makes his critical analysis through satire humorous by using this element.
The ballerinas wear masks that actually make them uglier than the average person.
“She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous (Vonnegut 4).”
The major purpose of the handicaps was to make sure no one felt inadequate.
Harrison is depicted to be the highest of all humans. He is 7 ft. tall, attractive, strong, and intelligent. A sign that his characteristics are exaggerated is in the fact that he is fourteen years old. When you think of a fourteen year old you don’t think of a god-like being.
This sentence is sarcastic because in the year 2014, a person with an average intelligence can think in more than short bursts.
“Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts.”
The reader can tell this is sarcastic because America doesn’t have nearly that many amendments, and the phrase “unceasing vigilance” has an underlying sarcastic tone.
"Aspiring times with Anisha." : Thematic Comparison: Harrison Bergeron Vs. The Chrysalids. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. (picture)

Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergeron
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