This years later he is luckily freed twelve

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This novel is shortonly being about 180 pagesbut looks may deceive you, or
in other words dont judge a book buy its cover or its thickness. A Clockwork
Orange is actually 360 pages because you have to read between the lines. You may
think that the storys theme is that the future will be filled with horrible
decadent violence (that is what I first thought), but if you read between the
lines you will understand that this book is written for one main purpose, a
purpose other than entertainment. A Clockwork Orange was written in 1962, story
about the future which was meant to be around 1995 to 2000 (a car used in the
story called a 95′ Durango). A boy about seventeen, Alex the narrator and main
character living in London, rampages about with his “droogs” (friends)
raping, stealing, beating and even killing people. Alex one day is caught for
murder and jailed but two years later he is luckily freed twelve years before
his sentence ends to take advantage of a new treatment for violent people like
him that he volunteered for. He goes through the therapy and succeeds and
returns back to civilization. He now becomes sick when he is about to commit a
violent or sexual, but also when the Ninth Symphony by Beethoven plays (a minor
defect from the treatment). Alex is driven to attempt suicide from this defect
because he is locked within a chamber playing this song and does not accomplish
his task. He is hospitalized and returns to his “ultra-violent” self while
the inhumane treatment does not work because it does not even give people a
choice about being violent. While Alex helps to present the theme, two different
outcomes are formed. First, Alex goes through a great change from being”ultra- violent” to becoming Lamb-chop and then back to being”ultra-violent”. Second, the theme defines the major conflict of the story.

Although the conflict does not have to do with Alex directly, he helps to
illustrate it. The conflict is not solved in the book and will probably never be
solved, but it does bring up for debate what Anthony Burgess thinks about right
or wrong, regarding the controversial situation of a cycle of violence.

“Violence makes Violence,” is what was once said to Alex by P. R. Deltoid,
his teacher from school before he went to prison. This book brings up . What do
we do to someone who has committed a violent crime? Do we punish them with more
violence, for instance death, or do we help them? This is the problem that has
arisen in this story and also in our daily lives with the death penalty. Anthony
Burgess thinks that the solution to violence should not be violence, but he does
not give any alternatives. In A Clockwork Orange a new treatment for
disturbingly violent criminals is developed by scientists working for the
English government and the government tests it on some convicted violent
prisoners. The treatment guaranteed that the patient would turn good and be let
out into the free world again. Alex was one of the lucky (because of reduced
sentence) people chosen. The treatment includes long days of watching violent
movie clips while a patient is hooked up to a lot of hardware. The treatment
works because now when a ex-criminal sees or are about to commit cruel violent
or criminal or sexual acts you become sick and cannot perform the task. This
procedure was thought of to end violence without causing violence, because every
action causes a reaction. For example, when Alex was free to return to his life,
his “droogs” betray him and beat him up severely in payback for his cruel
ruling as leader of the team of friends. This might cause Alex to come back and
hurt them again, which he considers. This causes a chain of violence that may
take years to end. When Alex is about to go to Dr. Brodsky (the man who will
cure him), the governor speaks to Alex. He told him about how these new radical
ideas and methods of treatment have been formed (from “ultra-violent” to a
lamb), and he does not approve of them. “If someone hits you, you hit back, do
you not,” the governor said to Alex. The governor means that for each action
there will be a solution of even more violence. The preceding brings up the
question of turning the bad into the good or the “state should hit back”
also like the convict. One thing that is important here is that the state does
not care about turning the bad into good, but on cutting down on crime and the
only way to do that is cut down on the number of criminals. But by doing that
with “just” ways. In the end this resolution is just another violent
punishment because it does not give people freedom and it can then lead to
death. In Alexs case he tried to commit suicide. As you see this problem of
settling what to do to criminals is already very complicated to solve and may
never be solved, but as it says in the Old Testament, murder will result with
murder (of the criminal) or in other words violence makes violence. This problem
is not for me to solve, but I think that an innocent, good and hardworking
person such as for example Alexs parents should have the right to live in
peace. Therefore, one goal to gain more peace is to try to lessen crime, and to
do that, punishments have to be given. If a hoodlum were unpunished he would
think he could freely commit horrible crimes again. This means that the convict
has to be stopped and taught a lesson before innocent and peaceful people get
hurt. Consequently, protecting good people is more important than not punishing
a criminal because the good people might get hurt and not the criminal. Now only
the judge has to choose who is good and bad. The book and the movie complement
each other. First, the book is less discrete with the theme and the theme in the
movie is very direct. Second, after reading the book any questions you might
have are solved in the movie because the movie is much more clear and it is also
made for an audience with less intelligence, who come to see violence. Finally,
both the movie and the book are alike except that there is more description in
the book and more in-between time between all the important events in the book.

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Otherwise, if you read the book first and see the movie second, you will
understand the question brought up by the theme. I liked the fact that there
were more that 300 words not in English, which were invented by the author and
made from Russian, therefore I had to look up a lot of words in the index, but
it was entertaining reading like that. The thing I liked most about the book is
the controversial question brought up and trying to solve it myself. I cannot
think of any dislikes about the book, but I unlike Anthony Burgess, I think that
there should be a solution to. You may ask what was between the lines and now
you get your answer: Anthony Burgess explains how violence is not a solution to
violence (violence makes violence), and that is the theme of A Clockwork Orange.

Categories: Articles

“A a man.”Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange

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“A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man.”Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange is a novel about moral choice and free will. Alex’s story shows what happens when an individual’s right to choose is robbed for the good of society. The first and last chapters place Alex in more or less the same physical situation but his ability to exercise free will leads him to diametrically opposite choicesgood versus evil. The phrase, “what’s it going to be then, eh?,” echoes throughout the book; only at the end of the novel is the moral metamorphosis complete and Alex is finally able to answer the question, and by doing so affirms his freedom of choice. The capacity to choose freely is the attribute that distinguishes humans from robots; thus the possibility of true and heartfelt redemption remains open even to the most hardened criminal. A Clockwork Orange is a parable that reflects the Christian concept of sin followed by redemption. Alex’s final and free choice of the good, by leaving behind the violence he had embraced in his youth, brings him to a higher moral level than the forced docility of his conditioning, which severed his ability to choose and grow up.

The question, “what’s it going to be then, eh,” is asked at the beginning of each section of the novel. In the first and third part it is asked by Alex, but in the second part it is asked by the prison chaplain. The answer does not come until the end of the novel when Alex grows up and exercises his ability to choose. He progresses to become a responsible and discriminating individual, escaping the clockwork that binds the rest of society.
A Clockwork Orange opens with Alex and his buddies outside the Korova Milkbar deciding what they were going to do for the evening. Alex acts on his impulses to do evil. He is driven by cause and effect relationships. When Alex wants something, he simply goes out and gets it. If he needs money, he steals it; if he wants to let out his aggression, he beats people up; if he wants sex, he rapes; if his droogs’ do not listen to him, he teaches them a lesson. He feels no remorse when stealing, raping or murdering innocent victims. Man possesses potential for both good and evil. Alex’s decision cannot be blamed on any outside factor, it is simply something from within that drives him to lead and participate in evil acts.
After a series of bad deeds, Alex ends up in prison, and becomes subject to a government-sponsored treatment called Ludovico’s Technique. The technique is a scientific experiment designed to take away moral choice from criminals. The technique conditions a person to feel intense pain and nausea whenever they have a violent thought. The key moral theme of A Clockwork Orange is articulated during a chat between the alcoholic prison chaplain and Alex two weeks before he enters treatment. He reflects on the moral questions raised by the treatment that will force Alex to be good. “Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed on him?” The government experiment fails to realize that good and evil come from within the self. The Ludovico Technique messes with Alex’s internal clockwork. He transforms into a being that is unable to distinguish good from evil. The altering of his personality makes him, “as decent a lad as you would meet on a May morning, unvicious, unviolentinclined to the kindly word and helpful act,” but his actions are dictated only by self-interest to avoid the horrible sickness that comes along with evil thoughts. He has no real choice, “he ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature of moral choice.” Being stripped of his free will, Alex is no longer a human he is the government’s toy. “Choosing to be deprived of the ability to make an ethical choice does not mean you have in a sense really chosen the good.”
Alex undergoes the treatment and his free will disappears. A Clockwork Orange was written in the early 1960’s at a time when Communism was a serious threat to western democracies. Burgess believed that the Communist project shifted moral responsibility from the individual to the state. Alex’s treatment exemplified such a transfer of moral responsibility on a smaller scale. The government’s conditioning, by robbing Alex of this capacity, makes him inhuman; he becomes, as F. Alexander puts it, “a little machine capable only of good.” As a little machine, Alex is unable to choose the good, although he may perform good acts. This is what the chaplain is referring to when he says to Alex, “You are passing now to a region where you will be beyond the reach of the power of prayer.” By committing evil acts and exercising his right to choose, the possibility of true and heartfelt redemption is open to him. Burgess, with the chaplain, takes the Christian moral position that it’s the free choice to do good, and not the good action, that really matters; in an interview, he said, “I still maintain, more than ever I did, that it’s the only thing we have, that this capacity to choose is the big human attribute.”
Upon Alex’s release he realizes his change of role in society from the victimizer to the victim. When the question is asked again Alex realizes he can’t choose what his plans for the night will entail. He can’t fight back when he is attacked by the “old cronies,” or when Dim and rival gang leader, Billy Boy beat him up. Alex’s deadened mind and body are subject to their revenge. He has no control over his actions, and feels like he would be better off dead.
Alex undergoes many changes during his adolescent years. He starts out as a malevolent gang leader full of ill will. He commits crimes for the experience itself, taking pleasure in raping, beating and killing innocent people. He comes from loving parents and a good neighborhood proving that the evil stems from something inside him. His parole officer questions his character by asking him, “is it some devil that crawls inside you,” that makes you act as you do. He fantasizes about nailing Jesus to the cross, which exemplifies the extreme evil workings of his mind. Alex is recaptured by government; the Ludovico Technique is reversed and his ability to make free choices is restored.
The question, “what’s it going to be then, eh?” is asked one final time when Alex is released with the capacity to choose between good and evil. He redeems himself by affirming his freedom to choose. Even though he first goes back to his old ways as a hooligan, he grows tired of that life. Alex’s character grows as he contemplates what it means to be a good citizen in society. “He grows bored with violence and recognizes that human energy is better expended on creation rather than destruction.”
In the first part of the novel Alex acts without consideration and forethought, he is not truly free. As a teenage criminal he asserts the power he possesses to choose, by emphatically choosing evil. He reflects on his life in the last chapter and becomes conscious that being young is like being a tin wind-up toy that “itties in a straight line and bangs straight into things and it cannot help what it is doing.” As he grows morally he begins to reflect more on his actions, and, in doing so, he works his way toward a more complete and real freedom. His final and free choice at the end of the novel demonstrates that good along with evil come from inside.
The question “what’s it going to be then, eh,?” repeats throughout the novel and shows Alex as a different individual every time. It should be noted that the government’s conditioning did nothing to change Alex’s mentality. Burgess portrayed Alex as an extremely evil character on purpose to show that each individual is in charge of his destiny. The character was still an emerging human being that had to go through a moral metamorphosis. Alex, the clockwork figure, was impelled towards evil but transformed into a useful member of society, on account of his free will to choose good.
1.”O My Brothers.” Davis, Todd F. & Womack, Kenneth. College Literature; Spring 2002. Vol 29. Issue 2. pg 18-19
2.”Bog or God.” Craig, Roger. ANQ Fall 2003. Vol 16. Issue 4. pg 51
3.”A Clockwork Orange.” Wallich, Paul. IEEE Spectrum. July 2003. Vol 40. Issue 7. pg 42
4.”A Clockwork Orange.” Ingersoll, Earl. Explicator. Fall 1986. Vol 45. Issue 1. pg 60
5.”A Clockwork Orange.” Coleman, Julian. Explicator. Fall 1983 Vol 42. Issue 1. pg 62

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