A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess Essay

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There have been many books published solely on philosophy, and many more than that solely written about human nature, but very infrequently will a book be published that weaves these fields together as well as A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. In this Book Burgess speculated on the fact “the significance of maturing by choice is to gain moral values and freedoms.” He achieved this task by pushing his angsty teenaged character, Alex, through situations that challenge the moral values of himself and his friends. In the novel, A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, Alex himself, must choose good over evil in order to gain moral values which will allow him to mature into a “man” in the latter of his two transformations. Anthony Burgess was born in Manchester, England on February 25, 1917. When he was a child of one-year-old his mother and sister passed away due to the influenza epidemic. He continued living with his father who soon was remarried to the owner of a pub. Anthony’s father played piano at the pub and Anthony began composing his own music at the early age of fourteen In 1940 Burgess joined the army and was put in the medical corps. Two years later he married Llewela Isherwood Jones. Burgess, soon after his marriage, left the army, started writing and teaching English. In 1968 Llewela died and Burgess was remarried to Lilina Macellari. They left England in 1968 and Werner 2

settled in Monaco, where Burgess remained a prolific writer through 1980. Burgess’ writing career was at its peak while Llewela was in the hospital. Durring this emotional time he was able to write such books as A Clockwork Orange and Inside Mr. Enderby, and create such a dynamic character as Alex. When Alex is first introduced, he is depicted as a disillusioned, corrupted youth. He is the stereotype of what parents don’t want their children to be, possibly what parents would blame on the media and TV if their did turn out like him. Although this much is known about Alex, what caused this behavior in him is a mystery. Could it have been an alcoholic abusive father, a mother whose painstakingly high expectations were only belittled by her son’s prepubescent violence, or was he just affected by the “ultraviolent” society in which he lives in? Although this question goes unanswered, it is discovered why it is that Alex does recover from his moral laxness as we focus on his journey starting at moral numbness, venturing through his clockwork conscience, to finally result in his being a “man.” The life of Alex takes place in an unspecified country that shares aspects of both Russian and American society (Kilvert 190). It takes place in a strange futuristic land who’s moral values seem to differ greatly from ours, yet there is still a strong relationship felt towards Alex. Since the novel is written from his point of view the reader seems to sympathize with Alex despite his brutal acts of violence and rape (Magill 469). From a one-sided description Alex could Werner 3

appear to be a monster that cares not for the well being of others, but as the reader gets to know him, he becomes more and more human. We find out early in the book that Alex is fond of Beethoven and other classical music. He appreciates art and other various forms of self-expression. When Alex is with his friends he always seems to be the “brains” of his droogs (friend), and he is revered as the leader. Although these good qualities draw the reader closer to Alex, it is nearly impossible to condone his acts of heartless violence. Throughout the book Alex commits such atrocities as raping two little girls whom he drank into a stupor, killing a homeless man, crippling a writer for life and killing his wife. When the reader tries to discover Alex’s motivation for doing these evil things he draws a blank. There are no signs in the book pointing to a reason for this violent behavior. Ian Scott Kilvert, a literary critic said “The bourgeois middle...
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