Anthony Burgess Anthony Burgess is a British satirist writer and composer,who won the Prometheus Hall of Fame award. He was born in Manchester to acatholic family and served in the military.
He included music and musicalcharacters regularly in his work. He believed understanding music and having anear for music is important for a writer. Burgess was heavily inspired by GeorgeOrwell and William Shakespeare throughout his life. This inspiration is evidentin his most of his work.
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Some of the most directly inspired books include 1985,a commentary book of Orwell’s 1984, as well as publishing a fictional bookbased on Shakespeare’s life called nothing like the sun. The author also getsthe structure of the novel, Napoleon symphony from Beethoven’s third symphony. Summary The book starts withAlex and his gang of droogs consisting of Georgie, Dim, and Pete, sitting atthe Korova milk bar, drinking milk laced with drugs. They leave the bar to goand beat up an old professor, get into a gang fight, and steal a car.
They usethe car to go a place labeled ‘HOME’. There they find a writer of a manuscriptlabeled, A Clockwork Orange. They rape the writer’s wife, and Dim is beat up byAlex for interrupting classical music on the way back.
The next night, Alexfights his gang to assert leadership, and then tries to rob an old woman’shouse. He ends up killing the woman, and his gang betrays him, turning him intothe police. Alex is now in jail for 14 years, but after 2 years, he gets achance to be part of Ludovico’s treatment, where he is released after 2 weeksof treatment. During this treatment, he is shown extremely violent videos,eventually making Alex very sick at any violent thought. Once he is released heis not welcomed by his parents and is beat up by an old gang member.
He takesrefuge at the writer’s house whose name is revealed to be F. Alexander. Him andhis friends try to make Alex commit suicide for political gains.
Alex survives,Ludovico’s treatment is reversed, and he is given a stable job by thegovernment. At the end of the book, Alex decides to give up violence and becomea family man. Themes The significance offreedom of choice – One of the main themes in Burgess’s “A clockworkOrange” is the significance of freedom of choice. Burgess portrays thatfreedom of choice is essential to humanity. He emphasizes that in the absenceof freedom of choice; human beings shall turn into mere machines; machinescapable only of clockwork. He primarily utilizes the mouthpiece of the chaplainand the mouthpiece of F.
Alexander to develop this theme throughout the book.In the text, F. Alexander says to Alex that, “They have turned you into something other than a humanbeing.
You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to sociallyacceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good. And I see thatclearly–that business about the marginal conditionings”. It is evident in thistext, that Alex’s freedom of choice has been rendered non-existent . He hasbeen transformed into a mere puppet of the society; a puppet that adheres tothe guidelines set forth by the society.
They try and create mechanizedgoodness. In other words, the author says that Alex has turned into someoneun-human like. The theme has been repeated innumerable times throughout thebook. In fact, the book also conforms to the theme of significance of freedomof choice. In the title, “A ClockworkOrange”, orange represents human beings and their liveliness, however clockworkshows that humans have been stripped of their liveliness, and have beenconverted into machines that function similar to a clockwork day in, day out. Manipulation by the government – Another recurring themeis manipulation by the government. Throughout the text, the government is seendoing unethical things in order to stay in power. They use propaganda,technology, and fear in order to manipulate and control its citizens.
Theauthor writes, “some veck creeched: ‘Smile!’ and I smiled like bezoomny withoutthinking … there were pictures of me and the intifmin all droogy teacher beingtaken” Here, Alex is tricked into smiling and snapping a picture with agovernment official so that everyone can see it in the news. The false imageobtained through manipulation helps the government stay in power and look goodto its citizens. It is ironic how the government uses manipulation to seem unmanipulative.
Form and Content Milk and nadsat (symbolism) – Burgess utilizes thesymbolism of milk to represent the young and the symbolism of nadsat torepresent the misunderstood. Only Alex and the droogs used nadsat; no oneunderstood them but themselves. The misunderstood also depicts babies, toddlersand the young since they can not speak properly This connects to the theme ofgovernment oppression, which is evident in A Clockwork Orange, his other work,and his inspirations. In the book Alex does violent acts just because it makeshim feel good. . Alex states, “They don’t go into the cause of goodness, so whyof the other shop? .
. . Badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on ouroddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great prideand radosty”.
Alex lets his primitive desires control him. Furthermore, Burgesscomments on how the government does not understand the teens and hence, theattempts to reform these individuals are rendering ineffective. The bookstates, “Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that.
They enjoy theirso-called punishment. They start murdering each other”. Even Ludovico’streatment, a more scientific approach, fails to reform in a morally acceptableway. Critical Commentary Anthony Burgess’ novel, “AClockwork Orange” is an innovative piece of writing. What makes readingthis book worth your while is how different and unexpected it is.