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A Clockwork Orange

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Anthony Burgess' novel, A Clockwork Orange has been called shocking, controversial, and horrifying. A Clockwork Orange is controversial, but to focus merely on the physical aspects of the work is time wasted. Burgess is concerned with the issue of ethics. He believes that goodness comes directly from choice; it is better to choose the bad than to be forced into doing the good. For taking away a person's free will is simply turning them into a piece of "clockwork"; a piece of machine containing all the sweet juices of life, but incapable of being human.

Government, as it is simply named in the book, is portrayed as being the great oppressor. The novel is based in a future where the government brainwashes its people and beats them into submission, all in the name of "goodness". This creates quite the oxymoron. The ultra-violence done by Alex and his droogs is unthinkably bad, yet for the police to beat the criminals is socially acceptable? It is made quite clear throughout the novel that the police even consider such brutality to be fun. When Alex is taken into custody, he refuses to speak until he has a lawyer. He knows the law, he says. The head policeman replies, "...we know the law too, but that...isn't everything." He then proceeds to punch Alex in the stomach as the other policemen "laugh their gullivers off." One cannot help but to compare the brutality of Alex to that of the policemen. Alex is an adolescent, yet the people put in place to control him exhibit the same behavior. Burgess uses the statement from the officer to help explain the meaning of his novel. If the law is not everything, then breaking the law is not everything. Rape and abuse are illegal, but being socially "wrong" is not the most important thing to consider. The author wants the reader to ask, can goodness be achieved out of bad behavior?

Ludovico's technique is the main vehicle for Burgess' purpose. The technique attempts to turn Alex onto the right path by taking away his ability to do wrong. In blunt terms, it obliterates his free will. Alex is forced into exhibiting acceptable behavior, from fear of becoming physically ill at the thought of wrongdoing. So now, in the eyes of society, he is an acceptable human being; human, being the operative word. Is not the essence of humanity the ability to exercise choice? Burgess presents a most interesting scenario. In his view, it is better

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