Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík Kennari: Sigurður Páll Guðbjartsson Enska A Clockwork Orange Reykjavík 24.Nóvember 2018 Elvar Þór SturlusonAnthony Burgess was born in 1917 and died in 1993. A lot of social changes happened throughout his life, such as: the prohibition, WW2, the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and many more.
Burgess not only lived through those changes, but also helped influences some social changes in literature and music. Anthony Burgess was a jack-of-all-trades throughout his 76 years. He was a novelist, composer, children’s book writer, play writer, essayist, critic, and poet. Burgess is most famously known for his controversial novel, A Clockwork Orange. Which i will talk about in this essay and mainly focus on the illusion of free will in the novel. A Clockwork Orange takes place in a futuristic city governed by a repressive, totalitarian super-State.
In this society, ordinary citizens have fallen into a state of absolute complacency, blind to the rampant growth of a violent youth culture. The protagonist of the story is Alex, a fifteen-year-old boy who narrates the story in a slang dialect called nadsat, which incorporates elements of Russian and Cockney English. Alex leads a small gang of criminals, Dim, Pete, and Georgie through the streets, robbing and beating people up and raping women. Then they hang out at the Korova Milkbar and get high.
?The novel starts with: “Whats it going to be then eh?” thus making it seem that Alex and his friends have free will. Alex, more often than not, chooses to be evil and so his choices often end in violent actions. To quote the author:””evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate? Unfortunately there is so much original sin in us all that we find evil rather attractive” According to the character F. Alexander, A clockwork orange is the result of “the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing with juice and sweetness.” The government has no right to interfere with human nature.
A person can make a concious decision to be evil or good as Alex tries to demonstrate when he says: ” what I do I do because I like to do”. By saying this, Alex clearly demonstrates that he isresponsible for his actions and he has made the conscious decision to act out against society simply because he likes to, because he is attracted to sin. When Alex and his gang attack F.
Alexander and his wife, we again witness horrible acts of violence that are ultimately the result of Alex’s choice. This horrifying scene is yet another example of Alex using his free will and his temptation towards evil. A repressive government, has stripped people of their free will so they become like “clockwork oranges”, natural on the outside but with the souls and minds of machines. The psychological conditioning that Alex goes through strips him of his ability to do wrong. Even though he wants to or tries, he simply is unable to perform any act of violence, even to save himself from danger.
As a side effect of the conditioning, Alex cannot listen to his beloved classical music, as it, too, creates violent thoughts which in turn trigger his feelings of illness. Alex may seem like a “good,” person but in reality his goodness does not mean anything because he has no other choice but to behave that way, he has become like a soulless machine. The voice of reason in the prison is the prison Chaplin who questions the ethics of interfering with God’s gift of moral choice, “goodness comes from within?. goodness is something chosen.
When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man”. Here Burgess again states through the Chaplin that stripping a person of their free will is more evil than a person’s ability to choose evil over good. F. Alexander echoes this statement, when he says to Alex that the treatment has “turned him into something other a human being. He has no power of choice any longer.” If a person cannot choose, one ceases to be human and becomes exactly like a machine controlled by the government.
After Alex undergoes the Ludovico Technique, he stops asking “what’s it going to be then, eh?” and that proves that the technique has worked and Alex has lost his free will. Alex’s question that was soprominent disappears and the mere thought of violence makes him physically ill. Dr Branom tries to cinvince Alex that the effects of the technique are make him sane: “you are being made sane, you are being made healthy”. Before the Ludovico Technique is used on Alex, he is a free being, given free will to do what he likes. And Alex simply likes to do evil and violence. However, it could be said that in his compulsive violence there is also some kind of mechanical quality.
In the end of the novel, Alex likens youth to a state of being like a wind-up toy, going along straight ahead and banging into things because it is not able to turn and avoid them. In other words, Alex may always have been something of a clockwork orange. In the first part, he can only do evil, and in the second part, he can only do good.
At last reaching maturity, Alex will be a creature capable of making moral decisions in life.