Monday, 16 October 2017

The Presentation of Evil in A Clockwork Orange

by Lily Godkin

A Clockwork Orange is a unique novel in the fact that it simultaneously vividly displays extreme violence whilst encouraging the author to empathise with the perpetrator of this violence.  Anthony Burgess wrote this novel shortly after finding out that he had a terminal illness, and it was written in order to support his wife after his inevitable death, to put in place the financial means to support her, this may explain the sinister theme to the novel and the emphasis on time and its limitations, a concept even loosely referred to in the title.

Throughout the novel it is constantly made debatable whether the main character of the book, Alex, is the protagonist or the antagonist. Whilst, his actions are time and time again immoral, and he proves himself a rapist and murderer.  The reader learns to like Alex, despite Burgess graphic descriptions of his violent and remorseless acts, his articulate speech and energetic personality allows him to be a desirable character, he is cultured and intelligent, proved through him being able to speak is own created language, formed from a combination of Cockney and Russian, he has an appreciation of classical music and forms a link between the works of Beethoven and his own violent actions to stimulate himself more powerfully.

I found this book truly fascinating and although horrifying it is amazing to see the links form between psychology, philosophy and politics, this novel certainly forces the reader to open their mind to the concept of punishment and evil and encourages you to reconsider views on labelling people as “good” or “bad” as Burgess shows everyone to have a little darkness and a little light within them.

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