Clockwork Orange Moral Amiguity

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Brent Loth
AP English
November 10th

Moral Ambiguity

In the novel, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, we are introduced to a bizarre and atypical protagonist, Alex. This young delinquent displays incredible depravity and revels in his random violent actions. In all of his cruelty, he feels no guilt and seems completely uninterested in a moral explanation for his actions. As Alex narrates in disorienting language that is difficult to decipher, one finds themselves yearning to understand the disturbing nature of his character and reason for his actions. As the story develops, we began to recognize that his adolescence and environment play a role in his abhorrent behavior. This insinuates that he is not simply a villain and that there is indeed a moral ambiguity about his character. In essence, the book asks the question: is morality an intrinsic trait in each of us or is it instead an aspect brought on by our cultural surroundings that can be changed? (Young/doesn’t understand)

In the first section, Alex and his gang go marauding at night seemingly with the intent of simple and blatant cruelty. However, Alex’s there is a complex twist to the terrorization of his victims. Alex views these acts as an artistic expression. His gang dresses in peculiar uniforms and he becomes particularly precise in the elegance of his crimes to reflect the classical music he associates with them. He describes his razor, for example, as something he can “flash and shine artistic.” (pg.19) This acting mindset makes the crimes less personal and condones the severity. Alex’s doctor try to address the violence of the youth through intelligently derived explanations associated with failure at societies edges. Alex’s reasoning is stated simply in saying “What I do I do because I like to do” (pg 45) His absence of conscious regret indicates a playful theater-like attitude that does not require questioning or explanation. Indeed, Alex points out that the...
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