10th Lit and Comp H
12 September 2014
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, once stated “As government expands, liberty contracts.” In many pieces of dystopian literature, liberty and identity is sacrificed for stability and governmental control. Brave New World and “Harrison Bergeron” exert criticism on the idea of government control by discouraging the uniqueness and identity of the individual people. Instead, everyone in society is expected to be similar, and equal. However, striving for equality creates a bigger problem: loss of identity. The science fiction novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley and short story, "Harrison Bergeron”, both criticize governmental control, by using characterization to portray a unique citizen that opposes the governing rules.
Huxley uses characterization to depict how a common citizen is influenced by the philosophy of government versus an anomaly. In Brave New World, an example of common citizen who conforms to the governments’ ideal is Fanny, who strives to follow and do what the government says. When Lenina talks about how she wants to be with only one man, which is forbidden by the government, Fanny replies “I really do think you ought to be careful. It’s such horribly bad for to go on and on like this with one man. At forty, or thirty-five, it wouldn’t be so bad. But at your age, Lenina! No it really won’t do. And you know how strongly the D.H.C. objects to anything intense or long drawn. (Huxley 41). Like the other characters in the novel, Fanny abides to the rules the government makes. The characterization Huxley uses to represent Fanny can be observed through how she follows the ideals of the government. She lacks identity because just like everyone else, she does exactly what the government wants her to do. The polar opposite of Fanny, Bernard Marx, is not manipulated by the government to follow the corrupt rules. His physical appearance also differs from his caste’s appearance because he is “eight centimeters short of the standard Alpha height and was slender in proportion” (Huxley 65). Huxley uses characterization to exhibit how Marx is physically different from the rest of his caste, being “eight centimeters short of the standard Alpha height.” Most importantly, Bernard isn’t satisfied with the idea that the government conditions the people to be happy. Unlike Fanny who follow the illogical rules of the government , Bernard states “ the real problem is: How is it that I can’t or rather –because, after all, I know quite well why I can’t – what would it be like if I could, if I were free – not enslaved by my conditioning”(Huxley 91). Bernard, the anomaly, realizes that he is conditioned to do what the government says and wants to act upon it. He wonders “what would it be like… if I were free” and understands that the control the government has restricted society’s right of identity. Characterization is used to display the differences between two characters and how their opinion about the government differs.
In “Harrison Bergeron”, the two people being characterized are Hazel and Harrison. Hazel, who conforms to the government, “had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts” (Vonnegut 1). Being at an “average intelligence”, Hazel depicts one of the normal citizens of the society who conforms to the government. On the other hand, Harrison, Hazel’s son, “had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for…