Importance of Spiritual Freedom in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange

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The Importance of Spiritual Freedom Revealed in A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess is one of the greatest British writers of the twentieth century. His masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange, is unrivalled in depth, insight, and innovation. The novel is a work of high quality - almost perfection. The novel's main theme deals with free choice and spiritual freedom. More specifically, "[The ethical promise that 'A man who cannot choose ceases to be man'] can be taken as both the explicit and implicit themes of the novel" (Morgan 104). Anthony Burgess expresses his view that no matter how "good" one's actions are, unless one has free moral choice, he is spiritually damned. The novel revolves around one criminally minded teen, Alex, whose world consists of rape, murder, and ruthless violence. Alex is eventually setup by his "droogs" (friends) and is arrested and jailed. After some time in jail, Alex is placed in a new rehabilitating program that uses electro-shock therapy, new medicines, and exposure to violent film. The program breaks all that Alex holds dear and builds him up with a new artificial conscience. This part of the novel "presents the reader with a new, reformed Alex, an Alex without free will or freedom of choice, an Alex who has become a victim" (Magill's Critical Survey of World Lit. 293). Burgess considers this lack of freedom to be spiritually murderous and terribly wrong. Burgess knows that it is better to choose to be evil, than to be forced to be good. Alex is tormented by his new state of oppression. He is incapable of making any choice; he must always do what is good. Alex is then taken under the wing of a writer who is fighting the oppressive government. The writer greatly publicizes the oppressive rehabilitation the state put Alex through. But Alex is still tormented by his lack of choice, so tormented, that he even attempts suicide. While Alex is in the hospital following his suicide attempt, the tragedy of his oppression is highly publicized, in an attempt to stop public criticism, the state "fixed Alex." He once again has freedom of choice. Through these series of events, Burgess shows another conviction of his. "The 'spiritual death' can also be seen in the wider context of a political or philosophical sterility which afflicts whole countries given over to the totalitarian view of life" (Dix 27).

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