A Clockwork Orange
Length: 1841 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
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In "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess, the main charater is Alex. He is a teenager and he lives with his parent. He is the leader of a gang that consists of his friends Pete, Dim, Georgie and of course him self. It´s a very violent gang, and they enjoy to beat up and to rape other people. Alex is a well known kriminal by the police, but he hasn´t been to prison yet. One day when the gang is hanging at the Korona Milkbar, Alex hits Dim. Dim is really big and strong, so he gets mad. But Alex is the leader and he maintaince the control of the gang. But one day Pete, Georgie and Dim betrays Alex, and he is arrested by the police. He gets arrested because he has murdered a woman. He is sentenced to 14 years in jail.
After some years in prison he kills an inmate, and he has to try a new technique called the Ludovico's Technique, which cures criminels who likes violence. After two weeks he is cured. He no longer wants to hurt other people, and he gets sick just by thinking of it. After the treatment he gets out of jail. But he can´t live at home any more. In the city the police catches him, and they beat him up. Afterwards he finds an author, who wants to help him. In the start of the story, Alex raped and killed a woman infront of her husband. The husband is the author. But in the beginnnig he can´t recognize Alex. He wants Alex to help him, with destroying the government. But he tricks Alex into committing
suicide, but he survives. After the suicide attempt, he no longer fells sick when he is thinking on violence. So he joins a new gang. But one day he meets Georgie, one of his old friens, who now have a wife and a baby. After this episode Alex realises that he is an adult now, and that he also wants a wife and a baby.
The novels composition is a based on a classic
narrativ model, which comes from fairy tales. The narrative model is called the "Home Away Home" Model. In the beginning of the book, Alex is in his own town, and is living at home. He likes violence very much. Later he is captured and put to prison.
Now he is away from home, and he is not incharge of things anymore. After getting the Ludovico's Technique treatment he no longer likes violence. He is now completely away from home, and away from the person that he used to be. In the ending, he is back home, living with his parents. He is also the leader in a new gang, which means that he is in control. He also likes violence again. But in the very last bit of the story, there is a twist. He changes from being a teenager to being an adult. This could mean that he is away again. But I don´t think so. I think that this means, that he is finally home, and that he has becomed the person that he really is.
In book the language is primary on english. But Burgess also uses a language called "Nadsat". This language consists of a lot of Russian words. It´s not used in whole sentences, but only as slang in sentences. In the story it is only the teenagers who uses it. The reason why Burgess has chosen
to used this language is, that some things in the book would be to violent and scary if it was on english. Nadsat is therefore hiding the violence a bit. It is also used to make Alex and his gang more youthfull. In many generations the youth have used a lot of slang, and therefore the youth in this book should also do it. But if there were used a lot of slang from the time where Burgess wrote this book, it would seem outdated in just a few years. Nadsat is therefore used to make the book timeless.
As said before, the main character in the book is Alex. In the beginning he is a very strange
person. He loves violence, rapping, being in charge and music. He has a passion for music, especially classical music fx Beethoven. When he is at home, he likes to ie on his bed hearing Beethoven and thinking on violence. It even turns him on. In the beginning he is the leader of the gang. When he hits Dim, and Dim protests he doesn´t care about it. Georgie, Dim and Pete also surggests that they want the gang to be run more democratically, but Alex refuses. He wants to be the only one in charge.
But when he is prison, he loses a lot of this control and freedom. He doesn´t like that, so he wants a way out. After killing an other inmate, he gets that other way out. If he gets the treatment he will be released. Alex thinks that he can easily handle the treatment, but he can´t. Now he loses more and more of his control and freedom. He can`t think on violence any more without getting sick. The thought of this makes him even more sick. When he is realised from prison, he can`t live at home. This also means that he loses more freedom and control. And that he is beaten by some old people and by the police dosen´t help. Earlier he was the leader, now he is in the bottom of the food chain. He is the weakest link. His situation get more worse for each day that goes by, until he reaches the bottom. He tries to commit suicide, but he fails. After this episode he gets cured from the treament in prison, and he becomes a leader again. But this isn´t good enough for him anymore. Now he wants something else. He realises what it is, when he meets Georgie and his family in the end. Now Alex knows that he is an adult. When he was a teenager, he thougt that he was free, but now he has reached the true freedom.
Dim, Pete and Geogie are minor important characters in the story. In the beginning they are all under Alexs "dictatorship", but they all becomes adults before Alex. Pete doesn´t becomes one because he dies in an young age. F. Alexander is also a minor important character. But he has much influence on Alex. In the beginning it is F. Alexander who is Alexs victim, but in the end it it Alex who is F. Alexanders victim.
The major theme in the book is freedom and free will. In the book it is told that you have to have free will and freedom to be human. But there can all so be something bad about having free will and freedom. In the beginning of the story, Alex has both free freedom and free will. He is therefore human. But he doesn´t use it to anything good. He only uses it for evil. Therefore there is a problem about this. Is it better to have free will and freedom even if it means that you harm people, or is it better to destroy the free will and freedom physically or psycically to avoid people from getting hurt. In the book, Alex gets beaten by the police, old men and prison guards. They try to destroy his free will. When Alex gets the treatment his free will is also destroyed. Burgess gives his answer on what the best thing is. He means that goodness is only real goodness if it´s chosen
. If it´s forced it is unhuman and mechanical. You can see it in the novel in the sentence "without choice and free will, man is no longer human but a "clockwork orange," a deterministic mechanism", which is said both by F. Alexander and by a prison guard.
An another theme in the story is having original Sin over environmental behaviorism. Environmental behaviorism means that our behavior is a product of the society that you live in. How you were raised and your academic desciplin, both means a lot on how you will behave. Original sin means that you have some bad things in the them, and that you can´t help it. It is all because of the fall of Adam ad Eve in the Garten of Eden. Of course you have an implus to do good things, but you also have an impulse to do bad things. This means that if your are evil, it is not because of the world you live in, but you just have evil inside you. Alex expresses this in the story "what I do I do because I like to do ". But if this was the truth it would mean, that we don´t have real free will and freedom. But in the end Alex says "over time, we can erase the effects of Original Sin by choosing goodness". This also means that you don´t have completely free will and freedom when you are young. But when you grow up, you can choose goodness, and if you do, you will have chosen
it by your self and therefore have free will and freedom.
Some times capitalism is critised in the book, and so is dictatorship. But the government in the story is more socialistic, or so it seem on many points. In a socialistic society, it is the state that is controlling everything. The market, all property and the mass media. Once in the story Alex is talking about "Statefilm". This can be a sign of that the state is controlling the mass medie. If they do, they can use it to make propaganda to control the minds of the people. With the Ludovico's Technique, they are also trying to control the minds of the people. One of the themes in the book was, that free will and freedom was nessesary to be human. In the society in this story, they don´t have free will and freedom, and if this is a socialistic society, it is surtain that Burgess don´t like socialisme.
In the end Alex realises that he is mature. He doesn´t like violence any more, and he wants to start a family. This is something that he has chosen
himself, and not through a treatment or anything else. Therefore he is an adult, who have free will and freedom. He knows that you can only get it, when you have made mistakes and have life experience. He doesn´t want his son be like him, when he was young, but he knows that he will be. He thinks that the youth is mechanic. The youth has to make their own mistakes over and over again before they can choose the right way out, and then have free will and freedom. This is an unbreakable circle that cannot be broken, and it a clock that keeps on walking. The youth is "A Clockwork Orange".