A Clockwork Orange "Eat This Sweetish Segment or Spit It Out. You Are Free."

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A Clockwork Orange

"Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free."

-Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess has been heralded as one of the greatest literary geniuses of the twentieth century. Although Burgess has over thirty works of published literature, his most famous is A Clockwork Orange. Burgess's novel is a futuristic look at a Totalitarian government. The main character, Alex, is an "ultra-violent" thief who has no problem using force against innocent citizens to get what he wants. The beginning of the story takes us through a night in the life of Alex and his Droogs, and details their adventures that occupy their time throughout the night. At fifteen years old, Alex is set up by his Droogs—Pete, Dim, and Georgie—and is convicted of murder and sent to jail. At the Staja or state penitentiary, Alex becomes inmate number 6655321 and spends two years of a sentence of fourteen years there. Alex is then chosen by the government to undergo an experimental new "Ludovico's Technique." In exchange for his freedom, Alex would partake in this experiment that was to cure him of all the evil inside of him and all that was bad. Alex is given injections and made to watch films of rape, violence, and war and the mixture of these images and the drugs cause him to associate feelings of panic and nausea with violence. He is released after two weeks of the treatment and after a few encounters with past victims finds himself at the home of a radical writer who is strongly opposed to the new treatment the government has subjected him to. Ironically, this writer was also a victim of Alex's but does not recognize him. This writer believes that this method robs the recipient of freedom of choice and moral decision, therefore depriving him of being a human at all. These themes are played out and developed throughout the entire novel. Alex eventually tries to commit suicide and the State is forced to admit that the therapy was a mistake and they cure him again. The last chapter of the novel which was omitted from the American version and from Stanley Kubrick's film shows Alex's realization that he is growing up and out of his ultra-violent ways on his own. He realizes that he wants a wife and son of his own and that he must move up and on in the world. Anthony Burgess was born John Anthony Burgess Wilson on February 25, 1917 in Manchester, England. He spoke eight languages, not including English. Burgess was a composer of music since the age of sixteen years. He taught himself how to read music and how to play the piano. The inspiration for A Clockwork Orange came while during World War II, when his wife was assaulted while he fought. She died about a month after the incident from internal bleeding, along with their unborn child, who was killed during the assault. He compensated by releasing his anger into A Clockwork Orange, in which a scene takes place that mirrors the traumatic incident. Anthony Burgess died at seventy-six, November 25, 1993 of cancer (Cohen). The novel's main theme deals with free choice and spiritual freedom. Anthony Burgess expresses his view that no matter how "good" one's actions are, unless one has free moral choice, he is spiritually damned (Malafry). The novel revolves around one criminally minded teen, Alex, whose world consists of rape, murder, and ruthless violence. Alex is eventually set up by his "droogs" (friends) and is arrested and jailed. After some time in jail, Alex is placed in a new rehabilitating program that uses electro-shock therapy, new medicines, and exposure to violent film. The program breaks all that Alex holds dear and builds him up with a new artificial conscience. This part of the novel presents the reader with a new, reformed Alex, an Alex without free will or freedom of choice; and Alex that has become a victim. Burgess considers this lack of freedom to be spiritually murderous and terribly wrong. Burgess knows that it is better to...
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