The Act Of Rebellion In Literature, History, And Defined By Psychology

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When the word “rebellion” is brought up, most think of Nat Turner leading a rebellion in August 1831 or the Haitian Revolution. But what about the rebellions or groups of rebels that took place in the 1900s or still are happening in our modern day society? Rebellion doesn’t just come out of nowhere, Countries that are ran by a dictatorship, monarchy, or a democracy always go through rebellion, but not all occur in a country ruled by a dictator. Rebellion always happens because governments fail to include representatives of the people that they serve when it comes to making new laws. As a result, those who are unrepresented don’t have a way to voice their support or oppose to those laws. Rebellion has been around globally and always ended up changing things, rather it be politically, socially, or economically in a country. Rebellion in the US has went on dating all the way to the founding of the United States. The feeling of being put out or the government not being fair is what causes people to feel or be rebellious. In African-American history, the word “rebellion” is very common and African Americans in today’s society help define the word even more. It is even seen or used in literature. Rebellion is the an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler, which can be seen in “Harrison Bergeron,” The Black Panther Party and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Though rebellion is seen in historical events, it is always seen and used in literature. Dystopian books mainly have and/or show the rebellion trait within its context or movie. In “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut.Jr, Vonnegut introduces the future as everybody finally being equal. Nobody is better than anybody else. Everybody lives in a handicap society to maintain everyone being equal in this society. But, Harrison Bergeron rebels and does not want to be like everyone else. As a result, he decides to rebel against the government and it does not end very well. In the text, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, it states, “The year is 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General” (Vonnegut 1). This evidence proves the thesis statement because it gives information on how the government is during this time and how everything has changed. It also proves the thesis statement because throughout the story, there will be soon be changes that cause a certain character to rebel against laws placed on everyone in order to remain “equal.” To express how much he does not agree with everyone being equal, Harrison Bergeron crashes a beautiful ballet recital. Bergeron does this by escaping from jail where he was held on suspicion to overthrow the government. In the text, it states, “Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds. Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor. Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall” (Vonnegut 3). This evidence proves the thesis statement because it shows that Harrison didn’t want to be like everybody else and wear handicaps, he didn’t want to be equal. Harrison escaped jail so he can get his point across. Harrison Bergeron is a significant story to show rebellion and that being equal to everybody makes everything worse. Being too equal is what imbalances the balance. Meaning, that inequality is what helps balance the rest of the world, being too equal is what creates an imbalance in the US or the world.

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The Black Panther founded by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Elbert Howard was an organization created towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement to protect African Americans in Oakland, California from police brutality and racism which was an illustration of the need of black self-reliance. Garrett Albert Duncan explains why the Black Panther Party became so rebellious and willing to make so many changes and take risks. Duncan also explains how nationalists placed a emphasis on symbolic systems. In the text, “Black Panther Party” by Garrett Albert Duncan, it states, “Perhaps most importantly, whereas cultural nationalists placed considerable emphasis on symbolic systems, such as language and imagery, as the means to liberate African Americans, the Black Panther Party believed that such systems, though important, are ineffective in bringing about liberation. It considered symbols as woefully inadequate to ameliorate the unjust material conditions, such as joblessness, created by capitalism” (Duncan 2). This evidence proves the thesis statement because it shows how that the government does things that cause people or groups/organizations like the Black Panther Party to rebel against the government. This also proves the thesis statement because the Black Panther Party as a whole was a very open resistant group and did not want to live by a government who did not protect everybody, just certain groups. Politically, the Black Lives Matter has changed US Politics. Jamillah King, clarifies how the Black Lives Matter Movement wanted to fight for black freedom and how the organization was very open about it. “Officially titled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,” the platform was the result of a year’s work by coalition. It was proof that there is a vast, coordinated movement in the US that is determined to fight for black freedom” (King 2). This evidence proves the thesis state because it shows how the Black Lives Matter Movement became a voice for all African Americans in the United States. It also shows how that more than one voice can make a lot changes. Finally, it proves the thesis statement because it shows the open resistance towards the government and is speaking volumes to make change in our modern day society. The Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter Movement have proven that rebellion still exists. It also has proven/shown how multiple voices can make change and how impactful events can become major eye openers can make changes as well.

Rebellion has occurs in all countries and in different types of governments. For example, a monarchy, dictatorship or a democracy all have citizens that rebel. Tracey Vasil Biscontini explains that not all rebellions always in occur in dictatorships and that sometimes governments bring rebellion upon themselves for not consulting with citizens when it comes to import things or treating other groups different from others. In the text, it states,“Not all occur in countries ruled by dictators. People also protest other types of governments. For example, sometimes governments fail to include representatives of the people they serve when they make new laws. As a result, the unrepresented people have no way to voice their support or opposition to these laws. Other times government officials fail to support the interests of the people who elected them. Officials may become corrupt and look out only for themselves. In some cases, governments pass laws that treat certain groups unequally. In response to all these situations, people may have become upset and revolt” (Biscontini 2). This evidence proves this thesis by showing how the rebellion is mainly caused because the government may not be fair to everybody. The psychological explanation just helps explains and gives reason as to why people become rebellious and are so openly resistant about something that isn’t good for them or anybody else. As stated before, people being rebellious doesn’t just come out of nowhere or a rebellion doesn’t just come out of nowhere. There has to be something that lead up to a rebellion or the person or group of people being rebellious and the main cause of people being rebellious is the government not being fair. In the text, it states, “The political situations that lead people to protest in one country may not spark the same response in another country. Throughout history, however, the general goal of most political or government protests has been to secure freedom and fairness for all” (Biscontini 1). This proves the thesis statement because an unfair government is what leads up to people going against the government. Political situations are what lead up to people deciding that what they’re getting in that country is completely different from what they signed up for. Finally, even though the government not being fair may not spark the same response in other countries, the main goal for most protests towards the government is and has been to secure freedom and fairness for everyone. Psychology and political events are what help sum up the definition of rebellion. So, in conclusion, government officials sometimes abuse their power and disregard the citizens who live there. Finally, the rebellious trait or having a rebellion does not come out of nowhere, every action causes a reaction.

In Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, rebellion is shown because of equality. In Harrison Bergeron everybody is equal and the main character Harrison Bergeron rebels and shows everyone that being equal does not help anything it just makes everything worse. As a result, Harrison is shot and killed by the US Handicap Government. The Black Panther Party and the Black Lives Matter Movement both represent rebellion in history and in current history. The Black Panther Party give an insight not only during the end of the 60s, 70s, and 80s era of how society was but also gives insight on how the fight for African-Americans against the United States justice system through the Black Panther Party is what makes them so significant in United States African-American history. The Black Lives Matter Movement gave a voice for African Americans in the United States to speak up and fight for their rights. By doing so, this helped change the US politically and continues to making changes politically. Psychology helped define rebellion even more and gave reason as to why people may be rebellious towards their government or would want to lead a rebellion. Most countries who have a significant ruler, sometimes that ruler will not consult with their representatives and just make laws that citizens wouldn’t be sure to either support or oppose those laws. Also, political situations are what also make up rebellion. Not all protestors in the different countries may react the same but the reason is all the same which is to secure freedom and fairness for all. Rebellion is an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler. This can be seen in the Black Panther Party, Harrison Bergeron, and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Works Cited

  1. Biscontini, Vasil Tracey. ‘Political/Government Uprisings.’ UXL Protests, Riots, and Rebellions: Civil Unrest in the Modern World
  2. Duncan, Albert Garrett. Black Panther Party. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica
  3. Inc. August, 21, 2018,
  4. King, Jamillah. “How Black Lives Matter changed US politics.” 5 March, 2018,
  6. Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Harrison Bergeron. 1961. 


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