Compare and Contrast Harrison bergeron to There will come soft rains Essay

Compare And Contrast Harrison Bergeron To There Will Come Soft Rains Essay

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Harrison Bergeron and There Will Come Soft Rains, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and Ray Bradbury, respectively, are both renowned short stories written in the science fiction genre. Neither story fits it’s genre’s tendency towards fantasy reading at the expense of message. Indeed, because of their eerie predictions for the future, both cast a feeling of apprehensive foreboding over the reader. Even though the both stories have different messages, there are important similarities between how they are conveyed, as well as their relevance. Setting is an important component in illustrating both stories’ central message. It can be used to radically alter the mood, or merely to complement the characters. Likewise, the characters of a story (or lack thereof) are an important component in fully conveying each story’s underlying message. Both Harrison Bergeron and There Will Come Soft Rains are written around a central message intended to be relevant to the reader. As such, they both necessarily depict what, the authors worry, may become of us in the future. In Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut tells of an intellectually sterile America in the year 2081, when “everybody was finally equal.” The bleak and uniform ambience of Vonnegut’s twenty-first century America can be seen in the fact that the sum and total of family interaction in a typical family (which they all are) boils down to watching television and making inane conversation. That can be compared favorably, however, to the terrible emptiness of the idyllic suburban neighborhood of the future – blanketed in nuclear winter – that is depicted in There Will Come Soft Rains. That both stories describe in chilling detail disastrous future scenarios for our civilization indicate that the author is, in each case, making a point about what we should and should not do as a society. The authors’ messages are not merely hypothetical ;rather, they are of importance and relevance today. Vonnegut’s story, set in a society where equality is absolute and individualism is absolutely minimized, seems to warn us against overly stressing equality while forgetting to teach the strength of the individual (Thoreau would be proud). Applying his message to current-day trends, Vonnegut’s writing warns us against starting down the slippery slope of censorship ;it would likewise frown upon much of the public education dogma so often accused of “cookie-cutter” instruction. The scenario depicted in Ray Bradbury’s story is one of complete (not merely intellectual) death – nuclear winter. The chilling message, underlined by the haunting irony of the lively robots, is that our society focuses its scientific and intellectual knowledge on all the wrong applications. This message is as relevant today, with various nuclear disarmament treaties pending ratification as it was when Bradbury wrote it in the 1950s. Clearly, the author intends for us to rhetorically consider whether our great technological advances should be applied towards applications such as weapons of mass destruction and goods to feed our society’s rabid materialism, or for peaceful uses that benefit the entire world. Even though their specific messages towards our society are different in content, they share a common theme of foreboding. Despite the differences between the two stories’ basic messages, there are important similarities in how they are told. The setting, an important component in each story, is used similarly in both stories. Because both stories foretell bleak scenarios in our future, it is appropriate that they would feature correspondingly bleak and discouraging settings, thus illustratively strengthening the author’s basic message. Vonnegut set Harrison Bergeron in a late twenty-first century America. Everything that he described about the surroundings is bleak ;the April weather is wet and dreary ;the interior so plain as to not even warrant in-depth description, the television program dry and uninteresting. In fitting with the story’s motif, everything about the story – the interior design, the Bergeron’s conversation, their meager thoughts, even their lives – is entirely bland and average. It is taken for granted in Harrison Bergeron that there is, and never will be, anything out of the ordinary. This is tantamount to eliminating independent thought and free will, which makes for a bleak setting from an intellectual standpoint. Equally bleak, but in a more literal sense, is the setting in There Will Come Soft Rains. Nothing cheerful can be seen in the story’s eerie depiction of a suburban neighborhood ravaged by a nuclear conflict. Even the automated house, which functioned obliviously to the destruction around it, introduces a sense of irony and lends the setting no sense of hopefulness. Besides the general desolation, one theme shared between the settings of both stories is the utter destruction of our society. In Harrison Beregeron, the U.S. lives in name only ;a government whose official policy is to establish absolute equality represents nearly the polar opposite of the United States of America founded in the eighteenth century. In There Will Come Soft Rains, the destruction of our country is total and literal. To conclude, by using bleak and desolate settings, both stories descriptively strengthen their foreboding messages, making them all the more powerful and relevant. Another parallel to be found in both stories is their lack of any meaningful characters. As with the settings, the sense of desolation conveyed by this is an important component of how the stories’ messages are conveyed. Vonnegut’s story features characters, to be sure, but they are either incredibly stupid (unable to carry on the simplest of thoughts) or handicapped to the same end. There is little indication of any intelligence whatsoever throughout the entire society in Vonnegut’s story ;all meaningful remnants of human individualism have been destroyed, leaving very little hope for any survivors. Once again, There Will Come Soft Rains is, in this aspect, somewhat more blunt than Harrison Bergeron. Bradbury’s story is conspicuously lacking in characters, leaving no hope for any surviving life. As with the stories’ settings, this emptiness amplifies the dire scenario that the author warns of. Furthermore, the two stories are similar in that the lack of meaningful characters is used to depict the destruction and failure of mankind’s many accomplishments. In the case of Harrison Bergeron, the conformist and generic lack of identity suffered by every identical member of American society represents the failure of society for and of the people, one of our race’s great civil accomplishments. Likewise, Bradbury’s story depicts the total destruction of mankind as his scientific advances go awry. In both stories, the lack of meaningful characters is used in a similar fashion to stress the authors’ potent messages. The similarities between the short stories Harrison Beregon, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and There Will Come Soft Rains are numerous, particularly those pertaining to how the central messages are portrayed. Both stories feature foreboding, warning messages that should give our modern society cause to reconsider some of its current trends. Although their messages are in some ways very different, many of the literary components through which they are told are quite similar. The two stories’ settings share many common characteristics and are used in support of the central message in similar ways. Likewise, the similar lack of meaningful characters between the two stories underlined their powerful messages. That literary elements were used similarly between the two stories is not surprising, given that they both convey messages of warning and foreboding for our society.

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