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"Harrison Bergeron"

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Savannah orlich

on 31 October 2013

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Transcript of "Harrison Bergeron"

"Harrison Bergeron"
By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Savannah Orlich
ELA Jennifer Gross
Analysis Presenation

The story of "Harrison Bergeron" takes place in the year 2081, in a society that has tried to adapt to being equal. It doesn't go as planned, however, as the government gives people handicaps but themselves don't have any.
Handicaps in this story are essential, for they provide the means of being 'equal'. People who are strong wear weights, if you're intelligent you wear a head piece that shoots a sharp ring into your ears, even beauty earns you a hideous mask.
A boy, Harrison, decides he wants to change this. So, that's what he does. During one ballerina recital, he escapes from his prison cell and heads to said recital where he then gives a speech in hope to change things(albeit, getting killed in the end).
Plot diagram
First, the government makes everything 'equal', by handing out handicaps. (This is prior to the start of a story, however).
Harrison is taken away, deemed dangerous to keep the equality.
A ballerina recital takes place where Harrison intervenes, trying to prove that the government isn't actually equal.
Harrison lands himself a girlfriend, one of the ballerinas, and dances with her.
The government, not wanting to be exposed for who they truly are, kills them during this dance.
However, no one remembers although they had all seen it.
"Harrison Bergeron" takes place in the future, to be specific the year 2081. They're claimed as a Utopian society, although it isn't even close.
Everyone in this society does exactly what the government says-blindly following them with no questions asked.
Character one
George Bergeron (Main)-Round Character

George is an average man, wears his handicaps, does what the government tells him to. He's a bit of a stereotypical father, strong and smart, but unwilling/uncaring enough to change the things he hates. He's neither protagonist nor antagonist-he doesn't cause any conflict but he doesn't resolve them in any way.
However, when Harrison, his son, is taken away he could be seen as an antagonist to Harrison for not trying to help.
When he starts getting flashbacks of the time when his son was taken away and sees the teen on TV he starts to learn that he didn't live to his expectation as a father. But, he doesn't remember it in the end.
"Harrison Bergeron" is the story of how we're all controlled by the government and how easily people are swayed by them. I think the author is trying to show how we need to make a change before it's too late and people like Harrison end up going crazy from the control and make rash decisions. I also think he's trying to say that we could never all be 'equal' in that sort of way.
Literary Element: Symbolisim
How does the author use this literary element in the story?
Literary Element: Mood/Tone/Diction
How does the author use this literary element in the story?
Literary Element: Flashback
How does the author use this literary element in the story?
Character Two
Harrison Bergeron(Main)-Flat
Harrison is a fugitive of the government, he's the protagonist of the story and hopes to change the 'equality' that the government claims to have given the world. (Although, you could also see him as an antagonist against the government and trying to take control-even claiming to be the new 'Emperor').
On one night, one like any other, during a ballerina recital that was just as good as any other, Harrison had decided to break out of the confinement and crash the recital. After giving a speech, taking of his many handicaps, and telling everyone to do what he said, he got himself an 'Empress' (One of the ballerinas [supposedly the best due to her many handicaps]).
Harrison doesn't change at all throughout the story, therefore making him a flat character. I'd also call him static, as he only seems to posses one or two traits. He learns nothing, and his outrage and the lust he feels for change causes his death, which is a bullet to the head by the government.
I'd cast older Tom Baker
I'd cast 2004 Gerard Way (AKA my husband)
Character three
Hazel Bergeron (Minor)-Flat

Hazel is the wife of George, she is an optimist and is a model citizen with below average intelligence and no real strengths or talents that could make her any better than anyone else.
She shows no real changes or any sort of character growth throughout the story.
The use of this element helps convey the society as a whole. Seemingly perfect at first glance but there's some undertone that gives it an off feeling.
What examples can you give from the story?
"The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal in every which way..." -Page one.
How does this tie to the thesis?
I'd cast Michelle Pfeiffer 2013
Character four
Ballerina (Minor)-Flat

The ballerina is a beautiful, graceful, and strong dancer. She wears heavy handicaps and a mask to hide her 'distracting beauty'. She too, like Harrison, desires change so she joins Harrison and ends up getting killed as well.
I'd cast Emma Stone
Character five
The Government (Major)-Flat
The Government isn't technically a character that could be easily characterized as it is a group of people. They're very deceptive and manipulative and would stop at nothing to get what they want.
They claim they'd like everyone to be on equal terms, but they hold themselves on a much higher level than everyone.

I'd cast Steve Buscemi to represent the Government
I think it shows how the Government is very nice and cares for the people on the outside. But, they are very two-faced and care only about power and themselves.
It conveys the feeling of how you trust someone, but somehow you know you shouldn't.
Flashback is used a way into George's life that he uses like a window in despair to remember what the Government took from him.
What examples can you give from the story?
"He began to think glimmering about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that" -Page two
How does this tie to the thesis?
The Government doesn't want you to remember anything they find that could sway your opinion for wrong. George has a hard time remembering his son and what happened to him-for they knew if he thought about it for too long it could cause problems.
To show how different people and places affect different things. The author wants to give a deeper meaning to each little thing that you can't quite find on your first few reads.
What examples can you give from the story?
"The Emperor and Empress were dead..." -Page five
How does this tie to the thesis?
I think it symbolizes how Emperors and Empresses will climb up a chain so high so quickly, and how they can inspire people to do things (for better or for worse is up to you). But, they can fall just as quickly as they climb up, much like Harrison and the Ballerina did.
Literary Element: Narrator/Persona
How does the author use this literary element in the story?
To tell the story from different tones and perspectives to show why different people would feel different things.
What examples can you give from the story?
"Nobody had ever been born heavier handicaps..." -Page three
How does this tie to the thesis?
The narrator is a character in itself, with its own personality and opinions.
Literary Element: Irony
How does the author use this literary element in the story?
To show that you can't really ever have a 'free and equal' society. And even the people that stand up to change what they feel is wrong will, too, become corrupt.
What examples can you give from the story?
" 'I am the Emperor!' Cried Harrison" -Page three
How does this tie to the thesis?
Emperors were treated like a God and always had complete control-Harrison didn't want the Government to have complete control anymore, but he'd want it for himself.
Author's Message
I believe the message is to not always think so openly and blindly follow a leader. Read between the lines and learn what their true intentions are.
Extended Thinking
We learn to take a stand for what we believe in and try to make a change for it. But, if it goes against the norm or the government then you shouldn't. The government is strong and manipulative but it takes one spark to start a fire.
Full transcript