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Essay on A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange

Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free.&

-Anthony Burgess


Anthony Burgess has been heralded as one of the greatest literary geniuses of the twentieth century. Although Burgess has over thirty works of published literature, his most famous is A Clockwork Orange. Burgess’s novel is a futuristic look at a Totalitarian government. The main character, Alex, is an "ultra-violent" thief who has no problem using force against innocent citizens to get what he wants. The beginning of the story takes us through a night in the life of Alex and his Droogs, and details their adventures that occupy their time throughout the night. At fifteen years old, Alex is set up by his Droogs—Pete, Dim, and Georgie—and is convicted of murder and sent to jail. At the Staja or state penitentiary, Alex becomes inmate number 6655321 and spends two years of a sentence of fourteen years there. Alex is then chosen by the government to undergo an experimental new "Ludovico’s Technique." In exchange for his freedom, Alex would partake in this experiment that was to cure him of all the evil inside of him and all that was bad. Alex is given injections and made to watch films of rape, violence, and war and the mixture of these images and the drugs cause him to associate feelings of panic and nausea with violence. He is released after two weeks of the treatment and after a few encounters with past victims finds himself at the home of a radical writer who is strongly opposed to the new treatment the government has subjected him to. Ironically, this writer was also a victim of Alex’s but does not recognize him. This writer believes that this method robs the recipient of freedom of choice and moral decision, therefore depriving him of being a human at all. These themes are played out and developed throughout the entire novel. Alex eventually tries to commit suicide and the State is forced to admit that the therapy was a mistake and they cure him again. The last chapter of the novel which was omitted from the American version and from Stanley Kubrick’s film shows Alex’s realization that he is growing up and out of his ultra-violent ways on his own. He realizes that he wants a wife and son of his own and that he must move up and on in the world.

Anthony Burgess was born John Anthony Burgess Wilson on February 25, 19...


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... has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate." This hypothetical type of clockwork orange nowhere appears in the novel because Alex is neither totally good nor totally evil, but a mixture of both. This remains true even after Alex’s conditioning by the government. It is true that the government tries to make Alex totally good through conditioning; however, since it is a coerced goodness, against Alex’s will, total goodness is not achieved. There are no morally perfect humans since original sin infects everybody and willful sin is still possible. Human governments cannot make individuals morally perfect, or as Dr. Brodsky states, "a true Christian," so they should not even try (Malafry). It is the mutual responsibility of God and the individual to reach moral perfection; the one giving moral freedom and removing original sin and the other rightly exercising the freedom to include acceptance of God’s forgiveness for willful sin (Hausey). "That’s what it’s going to be then, brothers, as I come to the like end of this tale," and Alex grows up and becomes morally responsible. He is no longer a human clockwork orange.


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