Harrison Bergeron - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Harrison Bergeron

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  1. Harrison Bergeron

  2. Author • Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007) • Attended Cornell University (chemistry major) • Edited school newspaper at Cornell • Served in the Army (WW II POW) • Survived Dresden fire bombing and Battle of the Bulge • Started writing in 1951 after quitting job at GE • Focused on SciFi. First major novel “Player Piano” (1952) • Also wrote “Slaughterhouse Five”

  3. Plot Summary • Rising Action • 2081 and everyone is finally “equal” • People are physically and mentally handicapped if proven to be above average in any way • Readers learn about measures taken to enforce equality (prison, fines, further handicaps) • George and Hazel are watching TV • Reader learns of Harrison’s recent arrest • News Bulletin: Harrison’s escape from custody

  4. Plot Summary • Climax • Harrison breaks into TV studio • Claims to be an emperor • Requests an empress • Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, fatally shoots them on live TV

  5. Plot Summary • Resolving Action • Musicians are told to put their handicaps back on at gunpoint • The TV burned out • George gets a beer • Hazel is sad for a minute and then forgets why she was crying

  6. Theme • Lack of freedom • Government amends the Constitution to include the pursuit of equality to the maximum extent • Government mandated handicaps are strictly enforced • Nonconformists are severely punished • People are prohibited from “taking unfair advantage of their brains” • Oppression and ignorance is maintained • Natural abilities are suppressed

  7. Characterization • George • Stronger and smarter than average • Required to wear mental and physical handicaps • Personal freedom severely hindered • Hazel • Considered “average” in this society • Not required to wear any handicaps • Naturally incapable of standing up to oppressors

  8. Characterization • Harrison • Above average in every way • HG men can’t create handicaps to adequately limit his abilities • His lack of conformity results in his death • Diana Moon Glampers • Comparatively as smart as Hazel (and in charge) • Responsible for ruthlessly enforcing the laws that oppress society • Willing to kill people to maintain the status quo

  9. Setting • 2081 • The lack of freedom results in a devaluing of creativity, self-expression, and ingenuity resulting in society being limited to the technology of the 1960’s • Characters admit that they don’t want to return to the “dark ages”- the age of competition and free thought

  10. Tone and Style • Vonnegut criticizes those who pursue true equality • He saw the trends in society and followed them to their logical end • He strives to point out that such a pursuit is unnatural, foolish, and impossible • His dark satire convincingly portrays the “equal” society in a negative light

  11. Symbol • Handicaps • The government’s attempt to limit freedom • They symbolize a shift in priorities: from freedom to oppression • HG men • Possibly symbolize a government agency like the FBI or CIA because of the extent of their power