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Harrison Bergeron

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  12,787 ratings  ·  759 reviews
It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments 211, 212, and 213 to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is stupider, uglier, weaker, or slower than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced.

One April, fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron is taken away from his parents, George and Haze
ebook, 9 pages
Published by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (first published October 1961)
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Gale A Response to A Question on Goodreads’ Forum

Why did his parents have muted responses to his televised, horrific murder?

The father’s once brilliant…more
A Response to A Question on Goodreads’ Forum

Why did his parents have muted responses to his televised, horrific murder?

The father’s once brilliant mind was all but destroyed by intermittent jarring sounds which the Government mandated. He is unable to concentrate on thoughts or even images (like the confusion inside the brain of someone with Hyperactivity). He is also physically weighted down by heavy bags to handicap his athletic skill and general body motion.
Understandably he sleeps poorly if at all. Depression and pain are his daily fare. It is not that he does not care about his son’s fate; he is just driven for temporary surcease by cold beer. A victim of extreme Governmental tampering (Big Brother Sees and Manipulates All) Mr. Bergeron was forced to submit to the brain handicap—like the people of Earth who had to be Capped in order to be controlled by the alien Tripods.

The boy’s mother is proud of her ordinariness, in a world where no one is allowed to be superior or prettier or more talented then anyone else. In fact she is Proud of the fact that no one understands “Normal” better than she. She also loves her iconoclastic son, but points out that Society would indeed be messed up if certain members “cheated on the laws.” She totally accepts the equalizing effect of the laws which repudiate the right or value of individuality among humans. Besides she can not retain mental images long and weeps easily. She can’t complain of their son’s murder when she has already forgotten what she viewed—only that it was "something sad." As in THE LATHE OF HEAVEN even racial tension has vanished since the various races have been blended into one; all people are an ashy gray. Beer and Tears help his parents forget the horrors they just saw on TV—which might be a blessing.


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4.22  · 
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 ·  12,787 ratings  ·  759 reviews

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A rather stinging, unsettling account of a likely future where absolute equality doesn’t naturally translate into celebrations until the constructs establishing it, are also ensured to be without prejudice.

Ouch, did I say too much? Rejoice in this much-in-love couple from that land then.

Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This short story takes about 5 minutes to read and it is absolutely worth it. It is set in a society where, in an effort to make everyone equal, anyone who is above average in any respect is given mechanisms or hindrances by the government to suppress whatever it is they can do. If they are mentally gifted, the Handicapper General (It was written in 1961) gives them an earpiece which plays annoying noises when they are thinking. If a person is attractive, they are forced to wear masks.

The story
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut is a short fiction dystopian vision that leaves the reader thinking long after the short prose is over.

One of the great things about Vonnegut’s short fiction is that he is able to tightly wind a story and never meanders off on tangent (even though those wanderings are often entertaining in his novels). Bergereon is the alpha male amidst a society of forced mediocrity.

Best line in the story, when asked if he would be a good whatever, the answer, “as good as an
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Eerily brilliant short story.

The story is about an imaginary world, where everyone is forced to be equal, in every conceivable way, often through the use of handicaps. Handicaps are ways by which excellence is brought down to mediocrity, and voilà, people are equal.

Stories like this truly scare me, not merely because of the unimaginable horrors it portrays but mostly because in a world that is so full of competition, what if people were to get tired of it and deem mediocrity to be the rule of l
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book
Damn you Vonnegut!!

All these years you let me think that 1984 is one of it's kind.
For god knows how long have I felt awed by the world Orwell imagined 1984 to be.

And here comes a SOB who writes stories which take hardly 5 minutes to read and leaves the reader scarred for life. In spite of the dominance of Orwell and presence of Fahrenheit 451 on the similar lines, Vonnegut is able to deliver the message safely and eloquently.

The story is set in the future when 'Equality' is the norm and 'Comp
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it


I keep thinking of all the handicaps we are saddled with by society. The worse, the kicking yourself in the ass bit, is that most of the handicaps are there by our own choice, albeit unconciously. Society is devious like that.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apocalypse
There are two paths to equality: elevating some people, and breaking others. Actually, ignoring for a moment the second option (which is the theme of Vonnegut's story), the first is pretty divisive all by itself. All our modern political ideologies seem concerned with it, after all - the extent to which a society, a government, should be responsible for its people, and whether helping each other actually infringes on some inalienable right of not having to help each other.

The reality is that al
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erin by: StumbleUpon
Shelves: dystopia, dark
A (hopefully) short review for a short story...

I ran into this on StumbleUpon, so I figured I might as well review it. This is a short story, a dystopian world with the same ultimate goal as in the Uglies series. However, this one succeeded in frightening me in a way that Uglies never did.

This is a society where equality is everything. No one is allowed to excel in any area, and the government enforces this strictly-- beautiful people must wear grotesque masks, athletic people carry heavy loads
In the year 2081, due to the 211th, 212th and 213th Amendments, people are equal (literally). If one person is "above" others then he or she gets assigned some kind of "handicap" which makes smarter people less smart, prettier people less pretty and athletic people weaker. The objective is to erase all traces of individuality.
Harrison Bergeron is not only smarter that most, but he's also very strong and he gets an abundance of handicaps.

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Hallo
Liz Janet
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The perfect introduction to Vonnegut is here. This is a story about absolute equality, and how dangerous it is. In this world people are completely equal, and the way to make sure of it is by adding things that would hinder them, as illustrated above. No one is uglier nor stupider than anyone else, but no one is also smarter than anyone else, and anyone that breaks this rules is basically an enemy of the state. Harrison Bergeron is taken from his parents for he is not equal to everyone else, and ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-favourites
Extremely dark, extremely humorous, extremely sarcastic, extremely beautiful and extremely tragic. Oh I could worship Vonnegut for producing this absurdly inspirational and witty dystopian short story! Hahaha!
'Harrison Bergeron' is a mind-blowing satire on the literal notion of equality. In the short story Vonnegut envisions a world in which physical and mental defects are 'given' to everyone to make them equal to everyone else. How does that work? Read the story to find out!
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian, adult
damn what a story!!

smol review to come
In his short story, Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut imagines a society that sacrifices freedom for equality. Such a regime reduces above-average people's intelligence and talent to the lowest common denominator. Regrettably, this unfortunate premise of Vonnegut's serves only to construct a strawman against socialism, an irony given that the author would come to express socialist sympathies himself.

What Vonnegut ignores is that no one actually proposes the peculiar kind of "equality" explored in Har
Took me mere minutes to read, but my God, Vonnegut does it again.
A world where everybody is equal, hauntingly so. If you're beautiful, you wear a mask, the more beautiful you are, the uglier the mask. And God forbid, you're actually intelligent. If you are, there are sporadic bursts of noise emission from little mechanical devices that should be enough to scatter your thoughts. Other than that, there are handicap bags. The more capable you are, the heavier your bags.

Read online here: Harrison B
Mar 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, ebooks
Reads like something a 12 year-old Ann Coulter would have written. It's like Vonnegut was channeling Ayn Rand.
Cuong Khong
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school, dystopia
Introducing the most classic dystopian of all time: "Harrison Bergeron". A satirical and science-fiction short story is written by Kurt Vonnegut (the best among the quartet Joseph Heller; Kurt Vonnegut; George Orwell; and Douglas Adams). First published in October 1961, by using three symbols: handicap, birdshot and target, Vonnegut successfully depicted an idea where complete equality is impossible. The book extremely criticizes the political theorem of controlling the people's mind. Now, sligh ...more
Peter Tillman
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" -- which I hereby nominate for Best SF Short-short Ever. And the *only* SF story ever to grace the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal!

Do reread it if its been awhile. And if you somehow missed it: one of Vonnegut's best. Hell, one of English literature's best. Hot stuff.

"It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. ..." -- also available in Fr
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good dystopian short story in a world where equality is above everything. To obtain it, people are given disabilities. I found the society frightening, even if its goal was good, and the characters were creepy, reminding me people in Fahrenheit 451. A nice and interesting read.
Alice Cai
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
3.5* It's 2081. Everybody is finally equal in society.

I realized I actually read this before in school. I know it's a short story, but I feel like this could of been really awesome if it was just fleshed out more by being longer.

edit: Lowered to 3 stars. The ending was anticlimactic and it's only 9 pages so not much happened that was really awesome.
And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the
laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.


WHITE SWAN, Leonid Afremov

Oil on Canvas, 24" x 30" (60cm x 75cm)

After reading this short story: Did you know that Kurt Vonnegut was a socialist?
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A sardonic, dauntingly eerie account about a future wherein 'equality' is used as an excuse to eradicate the faculty of independent thinking because it is menacing to the governing class of people and apparently causes too much unnecessary conflict.

It felt like a metaphorical story and it reminded me of how a plethora of rulers, kings, presidents or whatever else they are called tend to suffuse ignorance to remain seated where they are, or assassinate those who chose to speak up or act against
The idea was great but the story was ridiculous to be honest.It didn't deliver the idea well and was illogical at times.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: distopian, classics
This was everything i never thought I would find in a short story. I admit I have a high prejudice against short stories. You have to be a master of fiction to satisfy a reader in 15 pages, specially now in the times of trilogies, series, sextologies, octologies, and so on.

This one delivers. Is simple, to the point and jarring. It left me thinking, wanting to re read it immediately (and doing it) and in awe about how such short story in such simple language can convey such a complicated message.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow, this one was really short (only six pages!) but it packed a punch. The ideas it presented were really unique and quite scary once delve into. One sentence that really stood out to me and was the underlying theme of the short story was this:
“The minute people start cheating on laws, what
do you think happens to society?”
All in all, I was a really good read and I’d highly recommend it because it’s incredibly short yet really thought provoking. 3.5 stars.
B. P. Rinehart
"Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime."

This is my first official Vonnegut story read for class. It is in simple terms an extremely abridged version of the type of universe that Fahrenheit 451 exists in.

But this story differs from F-451. While Bradbury's dystopia was an extreme regulation and limiting of information and ideas, Vonnegut's dystopia limited you physically as well as mentally.

What may surpr
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shinjini by: Em Lost In Books
The year is 2081. Everyone is equal. Not only in God or law’s eyes. Everyone is equal in every which way. Everyone is average. And if they aren't, they are given handicaps to achieve equality. This equality was achieved by the 211st, 212nd and 213rd amendments to the Constitution.

That means no one is more beautiful than the others, no one is more intelligent than anybody else. No one is stronger or quicker than anybody else. There was to be no competition. This is the world where we meet George
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this somewhat dark and creepy short story with "equal is not always fair" and "what if everyone were the same?" ideas. This is a very quick read, clocking in at less than ~ten pages.

In this future world, anything that makes a person stand out in the way of talent is suppressed. This is in order to prevent competitiveness among the people. Smart people aren't able to think for themselves, talented dancers aren't able to dance well, beautiful people are forced to wear masks-things like th
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I know it's supposed to be satirical and all that but I got really depressed after reaching the ending. Would have rated it higher if only Vonnegut didn't present Hazel in such an unpleasant way. I mean, the notion of disability is something that scifi's been trying to address for the past few years. Writers are trying to break the stereotypes. And yet here he made Hazel's intellectual disability a pivotal source of the problem as though it's really all the stupid people's fault. It reinforces e ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopia
Wow. I wasn't sure, at first, about how good this was going to be. For a moment there, it almost seemed to be just crazy, but then, the ending came and made everything clicked into the right place. Maybe the best spent five minutes of the day. Well, not counting when I was watching my dog chasing her tail, of course. (view spoiler)
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m just confused lmao

I’ve read this again for university and i actually love it
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The Evolution of ...: HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 17 20 Feb 25, 2019 04:22PM  
Play Book Tag: Harrison Bergeron (Dystopian) 10 25 Aug 08, 2018 10:11AM  
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Harrison Bergeron 1 4 Sep 14, 2017 06:45AM  

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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
“He tried. That's the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.” 7 likes
“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. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.” 3 likes
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