An Analysis Of The Book A Clockwork Orange

“A Clockwork Orange” is a fantastic book that, ideally, should be read with all 21 chapters it was originally intended to have. This version articulates author Burgess’s point more clearly, as not only he himself has stated, but as we can also witness through the transformation of the protagonist Alex’s character. With the 20 chapter version, nothing really is accomplished in the end. Despite Alex’s character experiencing many changes throughout the book, he remains essentially the same. To begin with our main character, Alex is portrayed as someone who merely follows his deranged thoughts. Although it’s not evident from the start, the book is essentially about the concept of free will or choice. Alex is a great emblem of this attribute, but we often disregard it. Even though afforded free will, he consistently makes poor decisions, leading us to believe that he’s unlikely to change. The recurring quote, “What’s it going to be then eh” (Parts 1, 2, and 3), suggests Alex’s indifference. This phrase though finds its answer in the 21 chapter version and not in the abridged one, as it provides clarity about Alex’s decisions and his ultimate life path. (Growing up)

Equally important in the violent and dramatic world that Burgess paints, is the mention of the wind-up toy. In Part three, Chapter 7 (which appears only in the 21 chapter edition), Alex compares youth to a wind-up toy that can merely move in straight lines and struggles with obstacles. Through this analogy, we see Alex mature as the narrative evolves, comparing and relating the capriciousness of youth to his own life. This narrative development helps to convey Burgess’s intended image of Alex; not merely as a Clockwork Orange, but as a unique individual with distinct thoughts. The 20 chapter version, however, omits this part, leaving the reader with Alex, who is indistinguishable from most other youth in the book.

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Further driving home the point is the quote – “What about me? Am I just to be a Clockwork Orange?”. This quote underlines Alex’s desperation for individuality. In the 20 chapter version, his pursuit of individuality appears superficial because his character, towards the end, remains unchanged. However, in the 21 chapter version, Alex comes to understand what he truly desires and achieves genuine individuality, opting to be unlike the person he used to be. This marks a departure from most youth in the narrative, thus ensuring that he doesn’t end up as a mere “Clockwork Orange”.

All things considered, the evidence clearly suggests that the full-fledged 21 chapter version of “A Clockwork Orange” more accurately portrays the message that Burgess sought to communicate, unlike its 20-chapter counterpart. It allows us to appreciate the uniqueness of Alex’s character and provides us with an understanding of his character development, something that’s absent in truncated form of the book. Nevertheless, in the end, the choice, about which version to read, is ultimately yours!

Violence And Corruption In A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

Alex, the fifteen-year-old narrator of Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange, lives in a society where violence reigns. This novel has a very direct nature, and is often blunt to the point of offense, but this approach makes it more powerful and helps to further its message. This message is that everyone is out for themselves, whether they be the police, government, or citizens of this society.

In this book, the police can be just as violent as Alex and his droogs, or gang. In fact, by the end of the novel, his droogs have themselves become the police. The police have no qualms about beating people almost to the point of death, as they do with Alex both at the beginning, “I…they all had a turn, bouncing me from one to the other like some very weak bloody ball…and fisting me in the yarbles and the mouth and the belly and dealing out kicks… was sick…on the floor….” (70), and at the end of the book for no other reason than they feel like it. “O… It was all panting and thudding against this like the background of whirring farm engines…D” (150). There seems to be no difference between the people being beaten by street punks such as Alex and the police, who are supposed to protect them. The novel begins with the police doing little to protect the citizens, for how else could a fifteen-year-old kid and three of his friends rule the streets? They also seem to relish beating Alex for the simple reason that they don’t get to do it often. However, by the third part of this book, crime is almost nonexistent, but the police are far more brutal. Neither of these scenarios is better than the other. In fact, the cops are not out to help the people; they only want to serve themselves. Alex, during his first beating, confesses and hands his droogs to the police, but the police do nothing to capture them. The reason the people are so afraid “…then a bolt drawn, then the door open an inch or so….” (19-20) is that they have to be, since no one else seems to care about their well-being.

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The government is not much better. These corrupt individuals are only out for themselves. They are in power, like it, and want to stay there as long as possible. To achieve this end they will both tell the people what they want and then do it for them. One example of this deals with crime. The citizens of this society are fed up with it, so the government gets rid of it using brutal, corrupt cops. “The way that had been cleaned up, there being no longer any dirty, ballooning slovos….” (132). Since the people are not seeing the crimes of the police, they believe that the government is protecting them and so are appeased. Another example of this deals more directly with Alex. The citizens want everyone to be good and peaceful. The government, to show this, takes away a person’s free will to be bad. Thus, the citizenry believe the criminals have been reformed when in truth they have only been forced to do good, as they did with Alex. Then when the people realize they prefer free will, the government gives this back to Alex. The government is at the top and they like it there, so they will do anything to stay there.

Though the government and the police are both cruel to the people, this does not mean that the people themselves are good. This is shown in many ways. One such way is that the police were once common citizens themselves, so it follows that their behavior is indicative of the people. Another example of this involves one of Alex’s former victims. At the beginning of the book, Alex and his droogs attack an old man carrying books. When Alex is released, this same old man beats him in revenge. “I…starting to deal me malenky weak hits in my stomach…” (144). The prey becomes the predator. This shows that given a chance, even those who are supposed to be ‘good’ will stoop to the level of the street punk.

Another example of this is shown with the people who eventually try to help Alex. F. Alexander, the writer of the book ‘A Clockwork Orange’ from which the novel is named, does help Alex, but only for his own ends and even harms Alex: “…I could [hear] music coming out of the wall real gromky, and it had dragged me out of my bit of sleep…” (166-167) if he thinks that will help his cause more. These are just a few examples of how the people are just as corrupt as the government.

Everyone in this novel is violent, from the cops to the government to the old men who spend their days in the library. However, Alex and other criminals, such as Pete, one of Alex’s former droogs, are in many ways better than the other members of this society because they grow up. They grow tired of the violence and decide to settle down and start families. This is something the citizens, police, and government never learn. A young woman defends herself by beating Alex at the beginning of the novel, and an old man beats him at the end. The government changes him one way at the beginning and, still not satisfied, changes him again at the end. The police beat him at the beginning and the end. Even Alex’s social worker spits on him. However, maybe we see hope for the future with the true change in Alex at the end of the novel.

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