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Essay on Use of Language in A Clockwork Orange

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Examination of the Use of Language in “A Clockwork Orange”
     The created patch-work language of Nadsat in the novel, A Clockwork Orange, satirizes the social classes and gang life of Anthony Burgess’s futuristic society. The most prominent of these tools being his use of a completely new language and the depiction of family life from the eyes of a fifteen year old English hoodlum. Burgess effectively broke arcane traditions when he wrote A Clockwork Orange by blending two forms of effective speech into the vocabulary of the narrator and protagonist, Alex. Burgess, through his character Alex, uses the common or “proper” method of vernacular in certain situations, while uses his own inventive slang-language called “Nadsat” for others. Many experts believe that the use of these two types of language and the switching from one to another indicates a social commentary that Burgess is attempting to convey. Burgess also uses the device of the pseudo, or surrogate, family to reflect on Alex’s deep rooted desire to have some place where he can feel safe and whole.
     The use of language, or that is to say the effective use of language, is a widely utilized and commonly called upon tool of literary device. People generally grasp that language is an essential component when one is trying to convey something in the form of a novel, but most people do not understand the full sense that the use of language can convey. While developing this new language to write the novel, A Clockwork Orange, Burgess looked mainly to the Russian language. Don D’Ammassa states in St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th ed:
“Burgess developed and incorporated an entirely new slang to enhance the story's atmosphere. It is loosely based on Russian, but is thoroughly logical and sounds "right," providing an even greater texture to the work. Although some editions include a glossary to explain the various words, this was an unnecessary concession to lazy readers; the sense is apparent, and the ease with which the reader adjusts to the new speech patterns is a testimony to the author's skill.” (St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th ed 1)
Burgess doesn’t just throw together some imaginative if not sloppy language from fantasy, no. Burgess’s actual goal in creating the semi-Slavic slang used by Alex and his droogs, ...


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....” Refrence Guide to English Literature, 2nd      ed. Ed. D.L. Kirkpatrick. St. James Press, 1991.
Craik, Roger. “Bog or God in A Clockwork Orange.” ANQ. 16.4 (2003) 51-4
D’Ammassa, Don. “Anthony Burgess: Overview.” St. James Guide to Science Fiction      Writers, 4th ed. Ed. Jay P. Pederson. St. James Press, 1996
Davis, Tom F., and Kenneth Womack. “O my Brothers”: Reading the anti-ethics of the      pseudo family in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.” College Literature.                29.2 (2002) 18-9
Lowe-Evans, Mary. “Anthony Burgess: Overview.” Twentieth-Century Young Adult      Writers, 1st ed. Ed. Laura Standley Berger. St. James Press, 1994
Ovitz, Rubin Rabin. “Ethical Values in Burgess’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’.” Studies in the      Novel. 11.1 (1979): 43-50. Rpt. In Novels for Students. Vol. 15
Semansky, Chris. “Critical Essay on ‘A Clockwork Orange’.” Novels for Students. Vol      15 (2002)
“A Clockwork Orange.” Novels for Students. Vol. 15 (2002)



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