The Matrix and Harrison Bergeron have many things in common. The Matrix and the Harrison Bergeron were products of science fiction which is mind-boggling in its intensity. Both tried to portray a possible future which is the end product of man’s quest for power. Both stories made their audiences think regarding the would-be consequences of their actions if one is not careful enough. They are very similar in that they were able to make their audience aware of the negative consequences of their actions if they continue living life in quest for power and intense competitiveness to the point that they disregard to respect other humans and just went on treating others as nothing but a means towards their end.
Both portrayed a world where freedom in the entirety of its sense does not exist. Therefore, Harrison Bergeron and The Matrix are very similar in so many ways in their portrayal of a possible world where liberty does not exist- a world which is a result of man’s greediness for power, and their ability to make people think critically, and philosophically.
The first similarity between the two stories is that they tried to portray a possible future which is a result of too much competitiveness and hunger for power of the human race. In “The Matrix” too much cruelty on the machines led to the machines vengeance towards the human race. Due to human beings hunger for power they continue making more advanced machines which led to their own downfall in the end. Harrison Bergeron also depicts the same theme of downfall due to too much hunger for power. Due to human beings competitiveness and wish to be more powerful than his or her neighbor they faced the Dark Ages. Both stories resulted to a bad and hardly preferable future for the next generation wherein the freedom of the human beings was not exercised in the same manner we are using it at the moment.
The next common theme between the two is their ability to make people “think”. Both made people questions most of their beliefs and both raised some philosophical questions. “The Matrix” made people wonder about the reality of the world. The Matrix showed a future wherein humans went on with their lives without realizing that the images feed to them was not really real. Plato’s allegory of the cave came into mind in that Plato proposed that the world we see it now were nothing but false imitation of the world of forms. Rene Descartes claim that we ought to be skeptic as to what really is “real” because we cannot really be certain of most of the things we encounter in this world also came into mind. In “The Matrix” the people believed that they are really living their lives the way they wish to live it without realizing that they were in fact living in a world of simulated reality. The philosophical thing present on Harrison Bergeron on the other hand is that of the Marxists point of view. It showed the impossibility of living in an equal society. In the story everything and everyone were made equal. Those who are above average in beauty and intelligence were made to wear masks or tools so that they would be handicapped. However, in their attempt to produce an equal society they neglect to make those in authorities (like the handicapper general Diana Moon Glampers) equal with the rest of the society. In communism the lures people on the idea of an equal society. Yet how could one say that the society could indeed be equal when the necessity for some people to rule (to ensure that equality remains) far overrides the basic tenet of equality? Also, is equality really preferable or is inequality necessary for the smooth progress of society? These are only some of the philosophical questions raised by the two stories.
The third similarity between the two stories is the theme of freedom. Harrison Bergeron made the audiences aware of the necessity of the human’s faculty of reason in the same manner that it made the audiences aware regarding the importance of critical thinking. In the story human’s freedom were very much restricted to the point that one could not even use critical thinking or reason for the authorities fear of human’s reverting back to the old ages. Lack of freedom is ever present in the story that one is not even able to finish his or her own train of thoughts. The same thing could be said in “The Matrix” in that human beings were not able to think on their own. The reality, the thoughts entering their mind were all dependent on the machines that control them. Thus freedom in every sense of the word is not really present on the story.
To conclude, the two stories were similar in so many ways in that both were able to give their audiences something to think about. Both were science fiction which showed us that human’s greed towards power could lead to grave consequences. The stories also contain some philosophical problems which gave the audiences and readers something to ponder about. In a way both tries to caution us to what the consequences of our actions would be if we would not be careful. The stories as a whole also showed the importance of freedom. I commence the ability of those behind the film and the short story to create a plot which are great to watch and interesting to think about.
Harrison Bergeron. 1995. Jr. Kurt Vonnegut.
The Matrix. 1999. Joel Silver.
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