Harrison Bergeron

Harrison Bergeron

 

Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron is best appreciated through the written text, rather than its film adaptation, because it leaves a greater impact on the readers. Both mediums of the story tell the same story of a world in which everybody is equal and gifted individuals are handicapped by the government and the Handicapper General, or HG. However, the written version is much more exaggerated and unrealistic, such as when we discover that Harrison is a 7ft 14-year-old, which leaves a sort of eerie feeling upon the story’s completion. This unrealistic presentation of the fictional word amplifies certain details using writing techniques, such as when “Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came in to the studio with a double barreled ten-gauge shotgun” and shoots both Harrison and the ballerina in two shots (5). This all happens in two sentences, whereas the dancing section had almost ten times the amount. This makes use of the expanded moment technique and shows the HG’s actions as very quick, forceful, and powerful; the HG accomplishes this task alone and very quickly. Whereas in the film, the HG is joined by a number of the special police and takes a long time to get into the studio. This removes the scare of one person holding all the power. The written book was also able to give us the story from George and Hazel’s perspective. George explains the sounds on the mental disabler and Hazel explains the way “Harrison and the ballerina jump around like deer on the moon” (4). But on the film, the sounds on the mental disabler are the same, there is no description of what George thinks about the situation on the television, or how special Harrison is except for how loud he can yell, stomp, and break wood and chains. It’s impressive, but not like the sky jumping, padlock crushing, door breaking 14-year-old we read in the short story. The exaggeration here shows that, again, Diana Moon Glampers can end this boy’s life instantly without hesitation. This is scary and gets us thinking about people we put into power. But in the film, she doesn’t get in the studio alone, time slows down as she shoots, and she looks like she regrets doing it when seen on the television. This doesn’t give us the same effect as the reading where we contemplate how scary and powerful one with absolute power can become. In conclusion, the written version of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron is better than the film adaptation because it tells a more exaggerated story which leaves a more frightening message.

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