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Similarities and Differences in The Lottery and Harrison Bergeron

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Two short stories “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, both share many similarities. The government has full control over society by having authoritarian practices and traditions. In “The Lottery ” the short story begins with people gathering together at the town square for the annual lottery in their small village. At the start of the story, children were playing with stones that later turned into a twist towards the end. The ‘winner’ of the lottery, was later stoned to death. “Harrison Bergeron” is about a society that has to wear handicap items depending on how intelligent they are. The story started off with Hazel and George watching ballerinas dance on the television. George is highly intelligent and is handicapped with an earpiece that plays painfully loud and distracting noises. Hazel is mentally slow, so she does not have to wear any handicapped items. As they watched the ballerinas dance, a strange event happened. Both stories share a similar theme about social issues. Social issues caused these two stories to think they are utopia, have social practices, and lack of freedom.

In “The Lottery” the small town hosts an annual lottery every year. Everyone comes together and draws names out of an old, black wooden box. The story started off with young kids playing with stones and then putting them in a corner of the town square. There was one thing that stood out the most as the people gathered together. The people tried to keep their distance between the stones and the wooden box. The stones symbolize the death of the winner of the lottery. It is very odd that the village goes along with this tradition knowing that someone will get stoned to death. Another thing that also stood out is Old Man Warner, the oldest person in the town. He said that the lottery is not what it used to be. Society could be changing its ways, and the people would not really know what the tradition is actually for. In the story, it said that the box has been around longer than Old Man Warner. This shows that tradition is very old. “The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly…” People did not want to replace the box, because of how long it has been represented for their tradition, even if they knew what it meant. Society’s tradition is very harmful, but to them, they go along with it thinking it is fine. There were children around and it seemed like they were also being taught the tradition. It shows a lack of respect for human life. They are doing something absurd without even knowing the true reason why they do it.

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The “Harrison Bergeron” story is about a society where everyone is equal physically and mentally. The government is torturing its citizens this way. George has to wear an earpiece that plays loud noises in his ear every twenty seconds to distract him from thinking and having thoughts. Hazel is mentally slow, or as they say in the book “average”. She is unable to sustain thoughts. There is no need for Hazel to wear any handicap. In the story, the ballerinas on the television had to wear ugly masks on their faces. They also had to wear two-hundred pounds of weight around their necks to hinder their dancing. “She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.” The government probably did not want the girls to compare themselves to others or does not want them to create competition, but this hides a lot of the girl’s true talent and beauty. Harrison Bergeron, who is George and Hazel’s son, is a huge threat to society. He is very advanced and had to wear a surplus of handicapped items. Harrison wanted to overthrow the government. In the story, he ended up ripping off his handicaps, started dancing with the ballerinas and told the musicians to play better. He was trying to show what the government was stealing from society and what they are being forced into. The story describes the ballerinas dancing better and the musicians playing better. This shows that Harrison showed them freedom. This could maybe influence people to rebel against their government in the future.

Everyone have to dumb themselves down or behave a certain way to not be punished by the government. Towards the end, the handicap general shoots Harrison and the ballerina on live television. The live execution gives people a warning of what would happen if they would rebel in any kind of way.

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Similarities and Differences in The Lottery and Harrison Bergeron. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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