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Harrison Bergeron, the protagonist of the story, has exceptional intelligence, height, strength and beauty, and as a result he has to bear enormous handicaps. These include distracting noises, three hundred pounds of excess weight, eyeglasses to give him headaches and cosmetic changes to make him ugly.

Despite these societal handicaps, he is able to invade a TV station and declare himself emperor. As he strips himself of his handicaps, then dances with a ballerina whose handicaps he has also discarded, both are shot dead by the Handicapper General. The story is framed by an additional perspective from Bergeron's parents, who are watching TV but cannot concentrate enough to remember the incident.

For more information on the novel, characters, and themes, please visit the eNotes link below.

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Q: What is the purpose of all the gear Harrison wears in harrison bergeron?
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(major) George & Hazel Bergeron - parents of Harrison. Hazel is "average" and has no handicaps; while George is a big, tall man and very smart. He wears a transmitter in his ear that goes off every 20 seconds to prevent him from using his brain. He has weighted bags attached to himself to make him more "equal". (major) Harrison Bergeron - 14 years old, extremely tall (7 ft); athletic, very handsome, smart. He has sheet metal handicaps to weigh him down; his eyebrows are shaved off, black caps to cover his perfect teeth, very thick glasses and a red ball to be kept on his nose, all to hide his perfectly good looks. (major) Diana Moon Glampers - Handicapper General. She is of average intelligence and looks, appearing to be the same as Hazel, so she does not have handicaps, but she is in charge, has a shotgun and uses it to enforce the "rules". Apparently the rules do not apply to her. (minor) Television announcer - has speech impediment - a job that one with such a handicap would not be able to obtain. (minor) Ballerinas - have handicaps such as masks to cover their beautiful faces, heavy bags around their necks so they won't be able to stand tall. (minor) H-G men - Diana Moon Glamper's "police" that help enforce the laws. (minor) Band players - start out with handicaps that make them play terribly at first. Harrison strips them of their handicaps and they begin to play beautiful music. The H-G comes in and tells them to put their handicaps back on or "they will be shot".

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2081 is a 2009 science fiction short film, which premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 29, 2009. It is directed and written by Chandler Tuttle, based on the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by author Kurt Vonnegut. The cast is led by James Cosmo, Julie Hagerty, and Armie Hammer, with narration by Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson and an original score by Lee Brooks performed by the Kronos Quartet and Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. The story paints a picture through the use of hyperbole of a future in which a powerful, dictatorial government goes to extreme measures to ensure that absolute equality exists between every individual. The film takes place in the dystopian American society of the year 2081, in which all individual inequality has been erased by the fictional 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution and the "unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General", after that cabinet office was created to ensure a "golden age of equality" in the United States. Exceptionalness in the world is destroyed in the name of equality, achieved through the use of "handicaps" - physical devices used to nullify every inborn advantage any person might have over another: "The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains." Following closely with Vonnegut's original story, 2081 begins with George and Hazel Bergeron - parents of the exceptionally strong, intelligent, handsome Harrison Bergeron - sitting in their living room, watching the ballet on television. George carries many "handicaps", wearing an earpiece and heavy weights to counteract his intelligence and strength, respectively. Hazel, being perfectly average and capable of only carrying thoughts in "short bursts", wears none. Six years prior, Harrison was taken in a raid on their home by a SWAT team from the office of the Handicapper General. Sitting in his sofa, George tries to think about the event, but can't quite bring himself to recall exactly what happened in between the painful intermittent bursts sent through his earpiece. He continues to watch the ballet instead. The ballet is interrupted by a government news report being read by a news anchor with a severe speech impediment about the escaped fugitive Harrison Bergeron. George watches the report with a hint of interest. The report concludes and returns to the regularly scheduled ballet, featuring delicate ballerinas heavily weighed down to ensure that they are only as graceful as the average person. Just then, loud stomps can be heard approaching the stage, as the ballerinas cower in terror. Harrison Bergeron marches down the aisle and leaps onto the stage with a heavy thud, almost unhindered by the weight of his massive handicaps. In a deviation from Vonnegut's story, he begins his address to the audience in the theater and those watching at home by claiming to have a bomb under the stage, the detonator to which he holds in his hand. The audience listens to his address in shock as he peels off his handicaps and chooses a volunteer ballerina to do the same. He takes her hand, and for a few brief moments, the two dance, unhindered, as the audience watches, mystified by the pair's unbridled grace and elegance. The enforcers of the Handicapper General, keen to keep this display under wraps, surround the theater and quickly cut the video feed to the television audience as the Handicapper General herself marches down the aisle with a shotgun. On cue, Harrison pushes the button of his "detonator", which rather than detonating the dummy bomb under the stage, sends a signal to a device that overrides the video block, reminiscent of John Galt's broadcast in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. He looks into the camera with a proud but slightly somber grin. George smiles back at the television. Unaware that the video feed is again being broadcast, the Handicapper General fires the shotgun, killing Harrison and his ballerina. The SWAT team leader, having been unable to stop her before she fired, informs her of their mistake. In surprise and embarrassment, she looks around in realization that this gruesome, atrocious act of oppression has been broadcast for all to see. George stares heartbrokenly into the television as the signal is again blocked, until his train of thought is again broken by the screeching of his headset; true to Vonnegut's telling of the story, the gravity of the moment is lost on them, and they slip back into normalcy...

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