A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess occurs in a dystopian futuristic Britain and explores the idea of using psychological conditioning to eliminate crime. The protagonist, Alex, a 15-year old in England suffering from Antisocial Personality disorder; a leader of a gang involved in violence, robbery, and rape. The book has two main themes and divided into three parts; the first part of the book focuses on Alex’s criminal lifestyle, the second focuses on Alex’s rehabilitation in prison, and the third is focused on Alex’s entry back into society.
Alex is a guide on a journey into a dystopian future where the youth commit crime by night and the authorities rival their indifferences to maintain societal status quo. Dystopia is a society characterized by human misery, squalor, oppression, etc., being the opposite of utopia, an ideal place or state. Most dystopian novels are written in the future where things have gone askew; the purpose is to examine current problems in society and predict how they might become a problem in the future. Alex suffers from antisocial personality disorder creating a habit of manipulating, exploiting, and violating the rights of others. This disorder is characterized by acts of charm and wit1 and appeal to flattery enabling one to manipulate another’s feelings. Other qualities consist of breaking the law repeatedly, lying, stealing, starting fights and feeling no remorse or sense of guilt. Alex portrays all the symptoms of this disorder; he is prone to violence and finds enjoyment in inflicting pain on others. Alex is also a compulsive liar in many different situations of the book, never showing repentance after committing a crime. He shows disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society thus getting him placed in prison and treatment. Antisocial personality disorder (APD) can sometimes be found in psychopathic criminals and murderers, directly linked to genetics and malfunctions in the body. People suffering from APD have had a history of behavioral problems since childhood; they aren’t just teenage delinquents who have been hanging out with bad influences.2 People with APD differ in their motivations3 and their capacity for empathy, remorse, guilt, anxiety, and loyalty varies. Causes of APD range from abnormalities in the central nervous system, impaired functioning in the frontal lobe, and genetic influences. The causes of antisocial personality disorder reflect an interaction between an individual’s own genetic or biological experiences and susceptibilities. There are two main themes of this book – man’s ability to choose their path in life, good or bad. The second theme goes hand in hand with the first that interest can change, as man grows older. Throughout the book, the reader bears witness to Alex’s progression through being a crime thirsty criminal to prison and rehabilitation finally breaking his mannerism to be a civilized human being and then regressing back to a criminal in order to survive in society. Conflict begins when Alex and his Droogs committing crimes, such as rape and murder, until his Droogs betray him and is sent to prison. The point of the story when Alex is in prison, undergoing treatment and recovery4, is the most crucial point of the story. However, once Alex tries to commit suicide, Dr. Brodsky performs brain surgery giving Alex his free will back. The choice between good and evil is what separates humans from beasts; in the absence of choice, Alex was a clockwork orange, a mechanically responsive man. The Droogs are Alex’s friends who wander the night as criminals in the first part of the book. Besides the Droogs, there is F. Alexander whose wife dies at the hands of Alex and his gang. F. Alexander devotes his life to taking out the government responsible for his wife’s death, in the process, becoming a father figure towards Alex trying to make him a civilized human being. Alex is selected to be a candidate for Ludovico’s...
Cited: Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. New York: Norton, 1986. Print.
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