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Freedom of Choice in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange Essay

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“Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” In the novel, A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, the protagonist, Alex is faced with many opportunities to make choices. Although the majority of Alex’s choices are bad, they are still choices. Alex’s freedom of choice is ripped from him when he becomes the subject of an experiment that forces him to make good choices, however, he is still the same bad person even through this control mechanism. It is only when he is presented with the freedom of choice again, that he becomes a good person, is truly cured.

Alex exerts his freedom of choice in all aspects of his life. From the time he wakes up in the morning, until he goes to bed at night. Every decision he makes belongs to him. The only person who controls Alex is Alex. He does what he wants, when he wants to. He doesn’t care who he hurts along the way as long as what he is doing makes him happy.

The things that make Alex happy are very different from the average person. Alex finds happiness in hurting others. He and his friends, his droogs, spend their evenings robbing the town and the people in it just for the sheer thrill of it. Alex doesn’t care about money. In fact he even says that “money isn’t everything.” Alex and his droogs beat up and rob a man just to turn around and practically give the money away so that they will have an excuse to go rob another store. It’s just a game to them.

This nightly ritual of wreaking havoc, this “same time same place tomorrow” eventually catches up with little Alex. When an attempt to break into an elderly woman’s home for a little bit of “crasting” and some “ultra-violence” goes awry, Alex is apprehended by the millicents an...


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...mes so overwhelming for Alex that he attempts to commit suicide because he feels that it is his only choice. He ends up in the hospital where he realizes he is able to think bad thoughts without feeling the pain like before. He is a visited by the Minister from the prison who says to Alex, “we have put you right, yes?” He is cured.

Alex is back to his old self again, thinking bad thoughts, crasting, and doing a bit of the ultra-violent. However, he quickly grows tired of his old lifestyle. When he comes to this realization, Alex says, “…now I felt this bolshy big hollow inside my plott, feeling very surprised too at myself. I knew what was happening, O my brothers. I was like growing up.” Even though he as regained the freedom of choice, can choose badness if he wants to, Alex exerts his freedom in a new way, he chooses goodness. He is truly cured.


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