Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Clockwork Orange

The reader is brought through a night with Alex and his gang. The fifteen year-old was set up by his Droogs and was sent to the state penitentiary, with a new identity - -6655321. Alex is chosen by the government to participate in a new experiment that is supposed to cure him of all his evil. He is given injections of a drug and forced to see films of rapes and murders, which when mixed with the drug gives him feeling if anxiety and nausea. The treatment is supposed to make him associate violence with the panicked feelings. After he is released, he goes back to the home of one of his victims because he is feeling sorry about what he did. The victim is against the new treatment and says it robs the patient the freedom of choice and moral decision, which is depriving him of being a human at all, or a clockwork orange. I think it is brainwashing the patient and forcing them to act a certain way. Alex, in time, attempts suicide and the state gives him more therapy. I think the least chapter of the book shows Alex’s awareness that he is growing up and he realizes he wants a wife and son of his own. Burgess is showing that people can change.

Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange to show the importance of one’s own moral choices. The main character, Alex, is a violent thief who has no doubts about being cruel to others. There are many different scenes that are quite disturbing and violent. While reading the book, I got caught up in these actions of Alex and his “Droogs” (what he calls the others in his gang) instead of grasping the real meaning of the book. Burgess sets his book in a time where teenagers ruled the night, forcing real people to stay in their locked houses, and where teenagers can went to “milk bars” and be served milk laced with drugs. I believe the world that Burgess created in the book is to exaggerate the problems of the society by showing the absurdity of it. The society wants everyone to be “perfect” and act a certain way, where in real life I think it is all about making your own decisions.

Burgess’ definition of moral freedom is the ability to do both good and evil. He says it is inhuman to be just good or just evil, but a mixture both. I feel the important thing is one individual’s choice to think for themselves and decide what is good and evil. This is one’s moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good in order for there to be an ethical choice. You need to be able to distinguish between the two to make a choice. I do not think Alex is either good or bad, even after his treatment where the government tries to make him completely good. The government was trying to make him a clockwork orange by only allowing him to do good things and not allowing him to have the choice to do wrong. I suppose Burgess was opposed to the treatment because he believes it to be unethical, even though he was a victim of some one like Alex. His wife was raped and died due to an intruder in Burgess’ home.

Alex ridicules books and education, and gives no regret to his violent acts. I sense he does not steal and kill for money, but for his own pleasure. He does not treat his friends as equals because he is only satisfied when he is in complete control. Throughout the book Alex was depicted as the bad element in society. From the way Burgess depicts the society, I think Alex is the kind of kid the citizens would like to ignore or eliminate. He is viewed as merciless and the treatment is welcomed by society even if it is against Alex’s freedom of choice and identity as a human. The well being of the society as whole is put ahead of individual rights of one individual.

I think the purpose of this novel is to show the conflict of destiny verses free will. Alex lived a life of horror and crime and when he is presented with a chance to change he does on his own will. Each section begins with the phrase “what’s it going to be then, eh?” This shows the repetitiveness of Alex’s life and the vicious circle the society has put him in. In the last chapter he says he wants to find a wife and have a child. I see him growing up and becoming morally responsible when the book ends with “That’s what it’s going to be then, brothers, as I come to the end of this tale.” He is no longer a clockwork orange. Burgess magnified how the government was threatening to take away people’s essential choice to decide. His message is saying it is better to have the choice to do bad then be forced to do good. I agree with the author. If one could not think for themselves, then it would be like everyone is identical robots all controlled by one person, not being able to do what one desires.

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