Feb 14, 2019
Starting Points: Harrison Bergeron
Literary Device #1: Irony
- If being dim-witted is set as the norm of society and being intelligent or skilled is forbidden, society will never move forward because no one will have the opportunity to advance it. Ballerinas that are prohibited from dancing gracefully are obsolete and defeat the point of dance and self-expression. Readers begin to see that the idea of enforcing equality to this degree is silly and overall detrimental to society.
- The irony of anticipating that Harrison Bergeron will be the savior of this fallen society is that it is naïve and unrealistic. Harrison is one against all, realistically his chances of success are very slim, yet we are still drawn to root for him. We also must consider that Harrison is at the young age of 14, to believe he could save the society would be wishful thinking. Harrison seems to be concerned for the welfare of his fellow citizens because he is willing to take a stand against the flawed nature of the they live in. Harrison’s craving to be excellent is ironic when compared to teens of today because most people are content with mediocrity. If you have a mediocre job that supports you, you have little incentive to find a better one because your current job already suits your needs.
- When government official Diana Moon Glampers bursts into the news station and kills both Harrison and the Ballerina with one shot each she is shown to be a skilled shooter. Those who are not handicapped are either government officials or of low intelligence; only people who have no chance of advancing society are free of handicaps which reflects on the utter control the government has over the society.
Literary Device #2: Shifts in Tone and Mood
- By showcasing clumsy ballerinas, stuttering announcers, and dim-witted Hazel, the author is depicting a comedic tragedy. The society they live in is meant to make the reader realize the absurdity of the characters situation so they might pity them. The author set this silly yet somber absurdity to emphasize the dark, eye-opening impact that takes place later on.
- When the harsh penalties for removing handicaps are revealed it is a sober moment that gives the reader more reason to feel pity for the characters and stresses how controlled their environment is. Readers may feel disturbed or sad when they find that George has accepted his current stunted state.
- When Harrison Bergeron bursts into the news station it is a moment full of excitement and hope. The reader might feel surprised at first and expectant that Harrison will be successful in changing the society.
- The previous tone of comedic absurdity is violently shifted when Harrison, a 14-year-old boy, and the ballerina are both shot and killed instantly. Harrison’s death is an impactful ending to story that will convince the reader that living in a society where there is enforced equality is detrimental.
Literary Device #3: Allusion
- An amendment is an official change to a law or contract; an amendment to the constitution simply makes a change to it. America currently has 27 amendments; to make an amendment today, the proposal must be agreed upon by at least two-thirds of the majority vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. If the society that the Bergeron’s live in has over 211 amendments, I would expect their personal freedoms to be very limited.
- Chimes are used to remember someone, whenever you hear the sound you think of that person or thing. This implies that God and the Gospel are just a memory in 2081instead of a living active entity.
- When George mentions ‘Dark Ages” he is referring to the time in his society when people were free of handicaps and were allowed to practice and advance their skills. This term is alluding to the time period in the middle ages that was landmarked by societal, cultural and economic deterioration. This implies that competition is viewed as primitive and detrimental to society.
Alex BrownEnglishFeb 21, 2019
- Satire is the use of humor or irony, typically used to criticize a person or ideology. An example of satire in Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, Harrison Bergeron, is shown when clumsy ballerinas and a stuttering announcer are depicted on TV. These obsolete professions are used to accentuate the absurdity of enforced equality. “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. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.
- Mood is the atmosphere of the story and the tone is the authors attitude towards it. Tone and mood is present in the story when the harsh penalties for removing handicaps is revealed. ““Two years in prison and two thousand dollar fine for every ball I take out,” said George, “I don’t call that a bargain””
- Allusion is the indirect reference to something. In the short story, George is seen referencing the Dark Ages when he is referring to a time when everyone compete and advance their skills. ‘“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other get away with it and we’d be right back to the dark ages again with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?””