A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a novella written inspired by the author’s spite of the movement of communism, the rise of behavioralism, his devotion to the Catholic faith and the savage like nature of Russian teenagers. The title of the novella itself is quite contradicting for it contributes mechanical attributes to an organic product. The title eludes to the story as Alex, the main character, is all kinds of psychologically unstable before the introduction of the Ludovico Technique (Burgess’s satire towards behavioralism); adding this “no control to the patient” technique, resulted in further damage to Alex’s mental state.
In a society in which “ultra-violence” is the central conflict, taking away the freedom of choice might lead to a disastrous end as it keeps the “victim” from being able to defend himself. Now in the novella, Alex is far from the victim, but in fact he had brutally victimized a whole bunch of people with his so called “droogies.
” When it comes to playing the “victim”, a good citizen-like person, Alex was well trained in deception; however, as his freedom of choice to do or not to do evil was taken away, he was thrown into an evil world without any defense mechanism as it was replaced with an illness like paralyzes. I personally approve of what happened to him, after all, he did much evil and the victims deserved some kind of payback. Alex deserved to suffer what his victims suffered-that is the consequences of a society ruled by youthful evilness.
Alex and his gang terrorized the old and as faith has it, now “defenseless” Alex was terrorized by the old.
Throughout the novella there was an aura of Catholic righteousness which dictated what was right and what was wrong and which described Alex as the victim of the government. The government in charge of the “ultra-violent” society is clearly Burgess’s criticism of communism as it describes a society in which the fault is transfer from the individual to society as a whole; a government which tries to “save” society at the cost of individual freedoms. It seems that Alex’s and his gang’s violent rapes might have been alluding to the government’s rape of society- striping freedoms and logic from the individuals in order to satisfy society’s primal instincts. A mixture of anti-communist prejudice, suspicion towards the government and a sense of Catholic virtuousness creates a dangerous and often too hard to swallow depiction of a possible society. A society in which the young controls the night and the old are at the mercy of their children is a society in which nourishment comes in the form of evil and as a result of the absence of parental control.
In the physical form, nourishment often came from a milk like substance that gave the youth the physical and mental strength to go out to a world in which they were to be subjected to and the giver of suffering; it is quite a symbolism for the nourishment that comes from the breast of a giver of life is transformed into a numbing mechanism for evil. Alex was nourished with evilness well into his teenage life, and I found his recovery to be unrealistic in a world that was still practicing “ultra-violence”. Alex was a psychopath, a manipulative personage that sought to control his parent, his “friends”, and the correctional system and to a high degree, he succeeded; he killed an innocent person, he fooled a priest, he got the easy way out of jail and had everyone convinced that he was the victim of the government. There is a line of evilness to be crossed.
Evilness that is acquired due to the circumstances of life and that which comes naturally to those born evil. In my opinion, Alex was born evil and the last chapter in which he reforms his ways is unnecessary and to some degree, unrealistic. I understand Burgess’s message about youth, government, faith and the freedom of choice, however, I do not agree with all his views portrayed in his novella. The violence through and detail of it was honestly unnecessary and highly grotesque. It was much like if Kafka met Geraldine Brooks and they made the worst and yet one of the best commentary about the dangers of a particular society. I do not agree with his views that evilness can be reformed and neither that government seeks to destroy the individual; I do agree however, that corruption in government and specially the police force exist and is rampant throughout all levels of governance.
Overall, I understand why A Clockwork Orange has become a classic in our society, however I found it quite manipulative as the author used the narrator to try and convince the reader of his innocence. All throughout the novella I wanted to tell the narrator, “I am not your friend” and I didn’t believe in the intentions of the novella and I suspect that neither did Burgess.