Harrison Bergeron and 1984 were both based on a similar concept. This concept is creating peace by limiting and controlling the population. In George Orwell s 1984, it was done through brainwashing and doublethink.
In Kurt Vonnegut s Harrison Bergeron, it was done by limiting everyones abilities until everyone is equal in all ways. Each author used class systems, nature, and society to portray their negative utopia. Class systems played a more important role in 1984, than they did in Harrison Bergeron. In 1984, there were three classes.
The highest class, the Inner Party, controlled everything. They controlled what the people saw, heard, and read, and even what they thought. The middle working class, or the regular party, did all the work that the inner party wanted to be done, in order to keep the population, including themselves, in control of everyone. The third, and lowest, class is the proles.
The party does not even watch or care about the proles, because they are not important, and have no power at all. Harrison Bergeron apparently had everyone equalized through handicapping all those with extraordinary abilities.The classes were the same as they are in modern America, only with handicaps. Human Nature was repressed in both stories.
It is human nature to express one s talents in some way. In 1984, any kind of personal expression was thoughtcrime, and would cause the guilty individual to be taken to the ministry of love, and brainwashed. In Harrison Bergeron, every person was unable to display any kind of superiority over anyone else. The strong were weighted down, and the beautiful were forced to wear masks.
No one was able to display any kind of talent even if they wanted to do so.Society had almost the same roles for men and women in both stories. In 1984, men and women were both treated the same, as mindless members of the party. They both had the same jobs and duties, and they both had the same rules.
In Harrison Bergeron, men and women seemed to be treated the same as they are in modern society. The search for justice actually contributed to the creation of both societies. Both were created in the hopes of eliminating crime and injustices by controlling the population. In 1984, there was only one crime, and only one punishment.
If you commited thoughtcrime, you would be taken to the ministry of love and brainwashed, until you were fit to be released back into society. In Harrison Bergeron, people were handicapped as a way to create justice. Their society decided that it was unfair, or unjust, for any individual to have any advantage over any other individual. They solved this problem, but at the same time, they ironically removed justice when they stopped people from expressing their natural talents.
Both 1984, and Harrison Bergeron use these ideas in the same ways.The backgrounds of the stories are very different but the concepts are the same. Both express a negative Utopia as a warning for the future. If the government becomes the sole source of all information for the public, society may become like 1984.
If the search for perfect equality continues to extremes, the society described in Harrsion Bergeron may come to exist. Because of these two stories, however, society is more likely to be able to see these changes coming, and stop them before they become reality.