Many of us like to think that humanity as a whole is progressing to a better future where we will live united and in peace with one another, a time of a more enlightened society. But there are those among us that do not share these beliefs. In A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, the futuristic world is displayed as a world turned upside down and in shambles. This 1962 classic is a frightful depiction of what our society could become and possibly what it already is. Drugs almost seem to be legal and unregulated and subsequently are widely used.
The prison system is overcrowded with young punk criminals who are inherently evil with no regard for humanity, or any part of society for that matter. The youth takes over the streets at night and beat anyone they encounter. The elderly sit around in bars and drink the remainder of their lives away. The people have become desensitized to violence, because it is so prevalent in their lives. A Clockwork Orange is a very intriguing story that deals with many social problems, not offering a solution, but pointing out obstacles in the way of the creation of a more perfect society.
A Clockwork Orange is written in the first person by the main character, Alex. This makes the story more personable by allowing the reader to see into the mind of Alex as he goes through the many changes that he does. Three of his friends or droogs that help him in his crimes are Dim, Pete, and Georgie. Throughout the story the author creates his own language called nadsat, which is used by the youth of the futuristic world and is at the height of fashion. Nadsat is a mix of Russian, English, and the slang words of both. It is meant to set the violence apart from reality, making it almost cartoon like.
The story begins at the start of a wild and violent night with Alex and his friends sitting in a diner. To start off a typical night they encounter an old man walking the streets, so they harass and hit him. But this is not just any ordinary harassing episode but more of a complete and utter pounding. They beat the defenseless man until he is all bloody and disoriented. They then send him on his way, half naked and crawling home, later that night they saw an old drunken man sitting on the ground and they decided to beat him until he was delirious.
This is a very typical action of Alex and his friends on any given night. The next night Alex and his friends stole a car and took it for a joyride when they decided to break into a cabin on desolate road. When they got in they started roughing up the owners and trashing the place. When one of the droogs noticed a typewriter with a story lying next to it called “A Clockwork Orange”. The boys thought it was an odd title and Alex started to really beat the man, he beat him until he was bloody and lifeless. This time his friends thought that he had gone too far and betrays him by telling the police.
Alex is convicted of murder and sentenced to fourteen years in prison at the age of only fifteen years old. He goes to jail and still goes about his violent ways, and eventually kills another prisoner. After this he is chosen as a subject for a new experimental treatment called, Ludvico’s Technique, it is supposed to cure him of his ultra-violent ways. He is transferred to a new building specifically made for this new treatment. Here he is basically conditioned through many injections and he is made to watch films of rape and violence. The mixture of these images and the drug cause him to associate feelings of panic and nausea with violence.
Alex is released after two weeks in this new program, he is deemed cured and released back into the general public after only 2 years of incarceration. After a few encounters with past victims of his he finds himself at the home of a writer; who had also been a victim of Alex’s, but does not recognize him, who is strongly opposed to the new treatment the government has subjected him to. This writer believes that this method robs the recipient of freedom of choice and moral decision – therefore depriving him of being human at all. After Alex is in public for a while he is beaten and taken advantage of by many people.
He eventually goes back to his violent ways, and joins another gang. Alex eventually attempts suicide and the state is forced to admit that the therapy was a mistake and cures’ him again. Alex realized that his ultra-violent ways were wrong so he wanted to start a family now that he saw his old “droog” Pete was married and had a family. This book is one that seems perplexing on the outside because it is riddled with such slang that no one is used to but once you get through one chapter you can get the gist of what the characters are saying.
If the reader looks down into the deeper meaning of the text there is a lot to be said about it. How should people be reformed to fit into society? To what length should the government or anybody go to mold and form people to a particular norm or desired shape? From a review one would think this book to be simplistic but it is quite complex and very entertaining with the violence it seems to be a good thriller. All of these questions are raised in A Clockwork Orange. This makes it not only a thrilling page-turner but a thought-provoking novel also.