The grace of evil in A Clockwork Orange is a recurring paradox throughout the novel and also implies a deep religious connotation. The main foci are the several aspects of evil, violence, and sexual acts committed by Alex and his gang members. However, Anthony Burgess has cleverly incorporated similar paradoxes to that of grace and evil, along with a different dialect to aid in masking the true harshness that lies underneath the violence. The other paradoxes include the extremes of night and day, good and bad, and black and white.
The depiction of evil as being graceful is relevant to the actual title, but also reflects the actions, dialect, and events in the main character Alex's life. Appearance can be deceiving because Alex seems quite graceful, intelligent and well spoken. However, evil thoughts lurk within, which drive him, as a leader of his gang, to commit murders and rapes. As he and his fellow "droogs" speak in a sophisticated Shakespearean-type of language, they describe their evil acts with elegance. As violent and aggressive Alex is perceived to be, he enjoys listening to classical music, especially Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. However, while engulfed in eloquent, graceful, and peaceful music, his mind ponders evil, violent, and sexual fantasies. By the end of the novel, Alex is no longer able to listen to the Ninth Symphony due to the conditioning that was performed on him. He no longer has the freedom to choose and act of his own will. This theme also relates to the grace of evil because even though conditioning someone to be a moral person may seem like a good deed, it is in reality immoral. It is in essence taking away a person's freedom of choice. Religiously, Grace is a gift from God. Even those th...
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...g seems freedom of choice is more important. God's Grace prevails over evil and is accepting and forgiving of Alex's sinful actions. Without freedom of choice, one becomes a "clockwork orange," an unnatural and inhuman being.
Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986.
Coale, Samuel, Anthony Burgess. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
Connelly, Wayne. Critical Essays on Anthony Burgess. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1980.
Edelheit, Geoffrey, Ed. Critical Essays on Anthony Burgess. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co. 1986.
Rabinovitz, Rubin: Ethical Values in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, in: Studies in the Novel, 11 (1979)
Stinson, John J. Anthony Burgess Revisited. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.
Stinson, John J. Anthony Burgess: Novelist on the Margin. Riley 4: 82-83.
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