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Harrison Bergeron: Mood and Theme

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Holli Holton

on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of Harrison Bergeron: Mood and Theme

Quote #1
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. (Vonnegut, 1)
Quote #2
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)
Quote #3
It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples. (Vonnegut, 2)
Quote #4
She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George's neck. (Vonnegut, 2)

Harrison Bergeron: Mood and Tone
By Holli Holton
Vonnegut begins the story with the first paragraph creating a pleasant mood. The whole idea of complete equality in society sounds like such a nice thing to the reader's ears. Everything about this first paragraph is told in a positive way to contrast the negative that the rest of the story projects.
Using words like "burden" or describing the ballerinas (which in our world are considered beautiful) as "something the cat drug in" or in common terms, less than pretty. This is where Vonnegut starts really introducing this mood to the readers.

Here the author uses imagery to send the message across of the severity of George's handicap. Words that describe colour, the mention of tears, and the fact that this sudden noise made two of the ballerinas fall to the ground in agony, holding their temples. The mood is rapidly advancing sympathy on its readers.
Vonnegut describes the weight handicap to portray the obvious pain this must be for George. This makes the audience relate their own lives to his.
Quote #5
She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men. (Vonnegut, 3)
Quote #6
Clanking, clownish and huge, Harrison stood - in the centre of the studio.
Vonnegut continues to develop the mood of sympathy amongst his audience, by having them relate their own lives back to the handicapped victims. He also uses strong words like "hideous" to really sell his image of the mask to the readers.
The theme of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, is that in a society, which limits everyone physically and mentally, to ensure a completely equal fellowship, they actually disadvantage everyone.
Mood Definition:
The atmosphere that pervades a literary work with the intention of evoking a certain emotion or feeling from the audience.
The mood that Kurt Vonnegut uses in this short story is sympathy.
Describing Harrison with words like "clanking" and "clownish" only add to the sympathy the author is trying to evoke from the readers.
The End
michael cera
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