Harrison Burgeron

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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There is no such thing as a perfect world. In the short story "Harrison Burgeron" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. there is a bleak future portrayed. In his society there are people who for all intents and purposes are robots. This short story shows that even a perfect society has its flaws. George Burgeron seemed to be a smart man who had the ability to do something meaningful with his life. Yet he was oppressed by his society. If the great thinkers of our time were oppressed as he was it would cause us to lose a hundred years of progress. His wife Hazel Burgeron seemed to have the intelligence of an ape. The only person who was free and able to think was their son, Harrison Burgeron. The author of this story that even things that are perfect have their flaws.

George Burgeron was influenced by his culture. He was described as being a brainy man but was rendered useless with a mental handicap that was given to him by his society.

The mental handicap was a loud thought disrupting noise which was administered every thirty seconds. This handicap did not allow him to feel emotion as he would forget about what he was feeling when the sound was administered. He could not feel sad when he witnessed his own sons execution.

Another sad character depicted in this story was Hazel Burgeron. It seemed that she had servere brain damage as her memory was comparable to that of a goldfish, She had no self esteem and was in essence a robot who was unable to think for herself. George was able to put down any signs of defiance simple scorn. She would not be able to survive in any other society as she was to dumb and to whimsical. The only way she got away with this is because her whole world was the same way.

The only character that was able to think was Harrison Burgeron. He was too smart for the mental handicap and to strong for the physical. He tried to rebel against society but was executed for his feeble attempt. He was arrested for thinking outside of the ox but was killed for defying the ruler. He was trying to die as he saw it as his only way out of his miserable existence.

To conclude, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. portrayed a society where thinking was outlawed. The only way a person could survive was to conform. This society strove for equality but only achieved a society of zombies. This society thought that the end justifies the means, but the end saw the desrurction of individualism and the means was conformity.