Technology In "Harrison Bergeron" vs. 1984 - Paper Example

Published: 2024-01-29
Technology In "Harrison Bergeron"  vs. 1984 - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Technology Books 1984
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1371 words
12 min read


Harrison Bergeron and 1984 are stories based on a similar concept, which involves containing the population to create peace. Totalitarianism is the form of government in Harrison and Bergeron characterized by the state holding authority over society to control all aspects of their private and public life.

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In Bergeron, this is done by limiting people's abilities until they were all equal. The notion in Bergeron is that the idea of equality is not an ideal one worth striving for, as most people believe. On the contrary, it is but a dangerous mistaken goal bearing dire consequences in execution and outcome. Rather than enabling people with aid and opportunity, this dystopian form of government reduces people's abilities. Those with special talents had to be handicapped to be like the rest. The government murders the gifted without fear of reprisal. The beautiful are required to wear masks or disfigure themselves; the intelligent wear noise splitting devices all day, which impedes their ability to think, while the strong and graceful are required to wear weights around their necks. It is what the government felt was needed to achieve mental and physical equality.

The result was the seeping of the idea of equality insistence by the citizens that they begin to dumb themselves and hide their special attributes. The result is disastrous as people turn out slow and stupid. People fear execution upon displaying any special capabilities while others conform due to internalization of the governments' goals. Harrison, for instance, is taken away from his parents, Hazel and George. However, Hazel does not realize it because of average intelligence and can't think for an extended duration of time. On the other hand, George is an intelligent man who does not understand this occurrence as he is required to put on a radio twenty-four hours a day.

In 1984, control of the mass was through brainwashing as well as doublethink. The class system was used in this form of system. The Inner Party-controlled what people did, saw, heard, read, and even their thoughts. The middle class was the class that did all the work to keep the population in control and themselves. The last class was the proles, which had no power at all and was considered to be of no importance. In 1984. the idea of "Big Brother is watching" is one depicted. The use of it is used to depict a figure with authority watching over the people. In Oceania, technology is used for military purposes and to oppress the people. It serves as an instrument of political power by the system.

Rulers in Oceania want to instill fear, so they use telescreens to make them feel as if they are being watched. It is a multi-media and multi-functional devices used to monitor citizens' behavior. They are placed in the houses of the people to watch them. However, there isn't proof that the citizens are being watched or how observations are made and analyzed. Mr. Charringtons' house and shop lack a telescreen, perhaps because he is an officer. Technology had not been introduced fully in the roles' district. When Julia and Winston went to O'Brien, they at some point switched off their telescreens. They were astonished by the possibilities of luxury with the Inner Party's Members compared to the Outer Party. The party also forbid members to have and keep written records, photographs or any other documents. In the case there was any, they were destroyed through “’memory holes” In the totalitarian society they did not accommodate loyalties since these would final triumph over the parties. Family and sex created private loyalties and thus the party created a brainwash strategy to make children believe sex is unpleasurable, despicable and just a means to create new party members. Chastity was encourages and this way the urge for sex was repressed hence eliminating loyalties.

Evidently, the totalitarian systems of governance in 1984 and Bergeron depict systems whose intent is to get people accustomed to oppression and fear. They are similar in that both want to control their citizens by limiting what they can do, think, and abilities. They also kill rebels by vaporizing as is in 1984. The presence of handicappers is evident to enforce the law as well as similar goals to attain equality. The language was also controlled in 1984 to make the idea of bad thoughts impossible compared to Harrison Bergeron, where devices with noise were used. A difference between the two is that the government in Harrison Bergeron used total equality, while in 1984, the government uses psychological manipulation and totalitarianism.

Technology as a Control Measure

Noise: it serves as one of the tools of control to limit the intelligent into thinking past what the system wants. This noise broadcast by the government parallels George's and Hazel's tragedy where Hazel is watching ballerinas on the screen as she cries, but she can't vividly recall the reason as to why she is crying. The sound of a bottle being smashed with a hammer interrupts George as he thinks about his son. He is also interrupted by twenty-one gunshots that precede the murder of Harrison. The thoughts of equity and competition that used to be before being shattered by siren noises. As Harrison, their son, is being killed, a car crash noise connoting multiple people's injury is heard. The murder is so awful that they cannot comprehend it. Harrison was against the notion that strong people, as he (intellectually strong) should give up their strength to conform to the government's "equality."

Technology: is not used for education nor communication in this context but rather as an instrument of political power. It is used for military and genocidal motives. Telescreens are used to create illusions that hold the citizens in a state of fear and broadcast the Party's criminal activity towards the citizens, such as bombings and destroying goods. The government gave broadcasts when dangerous and talented people such as Harrison went on the loose. Pictures of his badly mutilated body were later shown to intimidate the viewers. Loud alarms were used to wake people up. Televisions are immensely powerful tools used to sedate people. They catch the attention of the people to the extent they are unable to internalize other thoughts.

Admittedly, there is a correlation in how 1984 and Harrison Bergeron have used technology to achieve their objectives. Despite the use of different technologies, they were able to gain control over the people who feared resisting totalitarianism. Technology, even in the modern society, has been used in similar ways to silence and brainwash people. On the other hand, its use can also be used to liberate and for other profitable purposes with good control mechanisms. Even in real-life situations, it's evident that television and other media tend to decrease people's attention span, as was with Hazel. It has also been used as a means of controlling information given to the general public. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the telescreens used correspond to the modern day surveillance cameras that monitor workplaces and streets. They give people the thought that they are being monitored in whatever they are doing. A positive way of looking at this is taking note of the security detail they offer in monitoring criminal activities.


Harrison Bergeron and 1984 are essential reads that bring out the use of symbolism in the contemporary society and different forms of governance. Additionally, they show various tools used to suppress justice and gain control in our systems. They portray some of the mechanisms used to brainwash people, incapacitate them such that they are unable to realize their full potential. Civil rights in most contemporary societies have been suppressed as those in power can "buy" justice. In an attempt to achieve this equality in the books, the civil rights of others are sacrificed. Civil rights, however, ought not to be sacrificed even for the alleged common good for all.

Works Cited

Ceil, Chenoy. “Comparing WH Auden’s The Unknown Citizen, Eugene lonesco’s The Leader and Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. “Eugene lonescothe Leader and Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison (May 14, 2012) (2012)

Przyawaea, Pawel. "Technology in Oceania-mechanization of social life in the word of Orwell's nineteen eighty four." Komunicacja Spolezcna. Czasopismo elektroniczne 1 (5) (2013): 32-43

Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergerson. Na, 1961

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