Natural human behaviour is built on the premise of freedom; freedom of thought and action that give the human race limitless capabilities. For the most part, human behaviour and thought are very spontaneous in nature and do not follow a step by step or calculated process. Nor, can the actions of humans be easily predicted.. The freedom inherent in humans is undeniable. Human beings work in a way completely opposite to machines and computers. Machines have no freedom to think, speak, move or have feelings. Freedom is not a trait pocessed by computers because they are governed by mathematics, programs and by someone else – human beings. What happens if humans begin to take on computer like traits and figuratively morph into machines? Applying mechanical traits to a person or mechanizing them, ultimately results in the dehumanization of humans because it eliminates many of the innate attributes that are instinctive; expression, feelings, freedom of thought, mind and body and the spontaneity that defines humans. Therefore a loss of anyone of these traits could be considered inhumane. Humans can become mechanized like a computer; processing infjormation and producing the desired output. This concept is evident in literature, especially in the dystopian worlds of George Orwell’s 1984 and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, which show that control is detrimental to the human race.
1984 and A Clockwork Orange act as examples to demonstrate the extent to which governments will go to improve a dystopian society. Like the “real world”, both novels illustrate that attempts to improve decaying worlds move towards employing means of control and constraints over the human race. Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and George Orwell’s 1984 show that psychological and physical controls placed on a society will improve efficiency and order in that world. However, the improved society has serious repercussions. Ultimately, both novels illustrate that when measures of control are placed on a society, the human race is dehumanized.
Methods of psychological control and physical control are used commonly in both novels and ultimately mechanize the characters . Although each method works in a different way to command others, these two techniques are intertwined and would not work without the other. Control is achieved in 1984 as well as A Clockwork Orange due to the interrelationship between the mental and physical; O’Brien illustrates that “we control matter because we control the mind” (Orwell, 227). The reverse is also true in both novels because if certain physical actions are eliminated, the thoughts that allow for those actions are eradicated as well. Psychological and physical constraints used by the state in both novels are manifested as one in the repression of human nature by using such methods as fear as a control and its physical counterpart propaganda.
Both 1984 and A Clockwork Orange show that fear of brutality and violence is a psychological control that can have a commanding effect over a person; fear can ultimately force a person to eliminate their actual thoughts in order to avoid punishment. . As a result, fear will eventually force a person to eliminate certain trains of thought to avoid being hurt and people. Winston Smith acts as a symbol of this dehumanization in 1984. In Winston’s world “thoughtcrime is death” (Orwell, 30) and he responds by “eliminat[ing] all incriminat[ing] thought that the Thought Police looked for” (Orwell, 79) that would warrant “a trip to 101” (Orwell, 79). Winston, symbolic of his society, thinks of only what he is told to because he fears that he will be killed for disobeying and thinking freely. Winston’s behaviour essentially shows that fear can mechanize a person by programming them to think only about what will not warrant punishment. Like Winston in 1984, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, must live in the same way. Alex too must eliminate certain thoughts and beliefs, (namely violence) because of the fear he has of becoming violently ill when he thinks of that particular subject; a side affect of the psychological control of the government’s Ludivico’s technique. The fear Alex has of becoming violently ill forces him change or eliminate certain thoughts; in one case Alex “viddied that [he’d] have to change the way [he] felt about this rotten veck very skorry (Burgess, 93) or become violently ill. In this case, Alex is controlled into permanently changing his opinion of another man who has just assaulted him; the state could just as easily force Alex to eliminate certain ideologies rather than opinion.
Burgess illustrates that fear of violence causes one to alter his or her thought process and is dehumanized because he or she loses self expression. Both authors show that fear as a psychological control results in loss of free will and expression and use their characters to illustrate that in general, human nature is destroyed by this control.
In addition, 1984 and A Clockwork Orange show that this measure of control is ultimately linked with propaganda as a physical control. Propaganda is the physical representation of fear as a method of control in both 1984 and A Clockwork Orange. Both novels indicate that propaganda is dehumanizing because it forces a person to think in only one way as opposed to being more open minded and having a largeer number of opinions. In the country of Oceania from 1984, people are constantly barraged by propaganda in order for the government to create fear in people and stop rebellion. Winston comments that the posters had “contriving eyes that followed you about when you move[d]” (Orwell, 3) and similarly the propaganda videos caused “[a] hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, [a desire] to smash faces in with a sledgehammer seemed to flow though the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s own will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic” (Orwell, 16). Orwell demonstrates that like an “electric current”, propaganda possesses one’s body and force a person to act against their own will and make them say and do things that would not regularly be in one’s character. Like a robot whose body is being controlled by an electric current sent by someone else, propaganda can control behaviour like a controlling machine. Orwell ultimately designates propaganda as controlling and dehumanizing because of a personal loss of free will it causes.
Anthony Burgess expresses a dehumanizing effect of propaganda in A Clockwork Orange through the ever present propaganda poster in Alex’s building. The painting is used as a symbol to represent the control of Alex’s body in the hands of Brodsky and the state. The painting is littered with drawings and covered in profanity prior to Alex’s torture to represent that Alex is in full control of himself as the propaganda is barely recognizable and thus not used effectively. However, when Alex is released from prison and is controlled by Ludivico’s Technique, the poster is clean and shows “vecks and ptitsas very well developed, stern and in the dignity of labour” (Orwell, 25). Burgess means to express that the physical control the government now has over Alex and over other “vecks” and “ptitsas” is in part due to the intensified use of propaganda. Depicted by the cleaning of the poster, the strength of propaganda has grown over the years Alex was in prison and as the government intensified its use of propaganda, Alex became more controlled by the state. In the end, Burgess and Orwell express that propaganda is dehumanizing because of the inherit loss of free will and choice assimilated with use of propaganda in society.
Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Orwell’s 1984 also show that dehumanization occurs in society by means of psychological and physical control on the level of social interaction. An important social component and undeniably innate human desire is for love and lust but is often repressed in society. The society which Burgess creates in A Clockwork Orange attempts to eliminate sexual abuse and aggression associated with sexual desires but in turn removes all ability to have or even think about sex. Alex says, in reference to an attractive girl, that “[He] would like to have her right down there on the floor with the old in-out real savage, but skorry as a shot came the sickness, like a detective had been watching around a corner and now followed to make his grahzny arrest so I knew I had to think of some new like of thinking” (Burgess, 93). The “natural” and uncontrolled Alex would have had sex with her. In response to his predicament, Alex comments that he is a “clock-work orange” (Burgess, 96); he is a biological organism like an orange but has been turned into a machine that is subsequently based on clockwork, routine and patterns.He is more machine than human and unable to lust. Burgess thus attributes the dehumanization of Alex through sexual repression to be from loss of possibility for love and lust. Orwell on the other hand attributes dehumanization through sexual repression to be from a loss of expression and the mechanization of sex. Sexual intercourse in Winston’s world is not about expression, and the only “recognized purpose of marriage [is] to beget children for the service of the Party” (Orwell, 69). The Party uses sex as a “disgusting minor operation” (Orwell, 69) to create a race of clones of “300 million people all with the same face” (Orwell, 77). The party’s “purpose [is] to remove all pleasure from the sexual act” (Orwell, 68) as well as expression. The government policies take away all meaning from sex and by using cloning imagery, parallels the procedure with creating babies to the expressionless mechanical process of artificial insemination. Together, each novel depicts the dehumanization caused by sexual repression despite the fact that each authors attributes the reason to a different cause. Repression of sexuality in humans is one psychological control on the social level that is evident in both novels; the physical control over social interaction in both novels is control of relationships.
Both literary works show that government powers control the relationships that people have in order to control individuals in a society. The desire to form relationships and befriend others is so innately evident in human behaviour and thought that tampering with this attribute in any way would alter human nature. Using Alex as a symbol, Anthony Burgess indicates that peer pressure is often used as a physical control that results in the dehumanization of humans because it alters a person’s natural behaviour. The desire to conform that peer pressure creates often forces people to acts in unnatural ways that they would not normally do. Through peer pressure, Alex is changed from a malicious and violent human being to a non-violent person that desires a son. Alex wishes to emulate Pete who is dressed in his “ordinary day suit” and become like him. Pete acts as a government soldier to subtly force Alex to become like him and abide by the government’s desire for law abiding and employed citizens; like Pete, Alex would now like to wear a suit and behave professionally as well. This method is so effective that Alex begins to believe that “perhaps I was getting too old for the sort of jeezny I had been leading” (Burgess, 139). The effectiveness of peer pressure in great as it can instantly change the thought process of a tyrant like Alex and is equally dehumanizing because it subtly but surely forces a person to mimic the behavioural archetype they are told to. Alex is so controlled by the peer pressure that he says he immediately has intentions to find “some devotcha or other who would be a mother to [his] son” (Burgess, 140). Orwell on the other hand attributes the dehumanizing affect of controlling social interaction to the prevention of fulfilling innate desire like communication. ————–
Beyond propaganda, fear, and social interactions, both authors illustrate that the most inhumane forms of control are literal control of the mind and body. Burgess and Orwell use A Clockwork Orange and 1984 to ultimately decree that order can only be formed in society by eliminating human nature and turn people into a “machine” of “clockwork” in A Clockwork Orange or a “mindless person” in 1984. Both authors use examples of literal mind control in their novels as an exaggeration of the results of any control in general, which in turn shows the degrading result it has on humans. Although they agree that dehumanization is the ultimate result of literal mind control, each author attributes it to a different cause. Anthony Burgess uses Alex and the torture of Ludivico’s Technique to represent mind control; in response to the controls placed on Alex, his every thought is controlled and as one character tells Alex, “they have turned [him] into something other than a human being – [he has] no power of choice any longer” (Orwell, 115). He ultimately illustrates that “a man who cannot choose ceases to be a man” (Burgess, 115) because humans are defined by the ability to think and do so freely. Burgess uses Alex as an example to show that literal mind control robs humans of the ability to control their own mind and illustrates the similarity between mind control and computerization of a human. When a person’s mind is controlled, they are like a computer that is told what to how to process information. Orwell on the other hand, uses 1984 to show that dehumanization through mind control is also in part due to actual mechanization of a person. Through the continually present motif of doublethink that the state uses to make the citizens believe every word they are told, Burgess shows that mind control makes a human being become like a computer in that he or she loses analytical ability and can only repeat what he or she has been told. As an example, Winston’s mind is manipulated from believing that 2+2=4 to knowing that “2+2=5 – although it did not come at his own accord” (Orwell, 290). Winston is brainwashed to the extent that he dismisses all knowledge from the past and replaces it with what he is being told in the present despite how false he once knew it to be. Orwell effectively demonstrates that mind control can make a person into a calculator that can only spit out what it has been programmed to say; a calculator with no ability to think or respond to stimuli in more than one way. The mathematical connotation of Orwell’s writing demonstrates the mechanical properties that Winston inherits when his mind is controlled because he is programmed to know that “2+2=5” without analyzing what he is thinking. Mind control is seen in both novels to be dehumanizing and because the mind controls matter and matter controls the mind, control over a human’s physical behaviour is just as damaging to human nature.
The societies created in each novel use physical control to control people as much as mind control; the complex use of technology actually allows for the literal control of a human’s movement. Through Ludivico’s Technique in A Clockwork Orange the government is able to control Alex’s body as if he were a robot with no control over his actions. Burgess indicates that the dehumanization of Alex is because of the mechanization of his body so that he loses spontaneity and becomes a thing of routine. Through control of his physical movements, Alex becomes incapable of acting in an aggressive or violent way and as F. Alexander says, Alex has become “a machine capable of only good” (Orwell, 115). As a dehumanized machine, unable to avoid routine, the title of the novel becomes apparent; Alex’s behaviour is easily predictable like clockwork as it is known what his inescapable clockwork will allow his to do. Essentially Burgess shows that to repress physical freedom is to turn a person into a machine based on routine. Orwell on the other hand shows that literal physical control is dehumanizing because it is repressive and removes all freedom of expression from a human. In 1984 the actions of every human are controlled by the telescreens which provide an image of the constant control in Oceania. The physical control that the screens impose removes all freedom of expression on a physical level because of the punishment associated with self-expression. Humans have always written, sung and performed to show their feelings, however, even in Winston’s own home he is required to hide his feelings and “set his features into an expression of quiet optimism which was advisable to wear in front of the telescreen” (Orwell, 6). As a result, the people of Oceania must hold all they have to tell inside when they innately desire so much to “expose what the Party had done” (Orwell, 163).