Title: A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess
Rating: **** (really liked it)
Ok, this is one dark, twisted and eye-opening read. Fairly quick, too. It’s a ‘novella’. Was one of the readings I had to do for school, and man, am I glad I did. Like I said, it is dark and twisted (and no, unlike what you might be thinking, I’m not some sort of dark, angry person, well not much…just… let’s not got there) but it is also very eye-opening. O_O like that. It is quite insightful and will definitely make you ponder things to the point your brain starts to feel like a limp noodle. (Mmm, noodles).
So, basically the story is about Alex, the anti-hero (really like that term), anti-hero, because he spends his nights going around town with his three friends terrorizing old and young people alike. He’s the protagonist and antagonist at the same time – he actually finds satisfaction in attacking people and destroying things. There is no distinct black and white representation of good and evil as in other novels. Every character has a bit of both, sometimes more of one than the other. The main character himself is more lenient towards the evil than the good.
Anyway, during one of these highly enjoyable outings (enjoyable for Alex, not for this reader) he gets caught by the police, thrown in jail, and then made to undergo Ludovico’s Technique – a process which forces the patient to view ultra-violent films while listening to loud, climactic music at the same time. This is supposed to condition the patient to be repulsed by anything, be it thought or action, remotely related to violence. In order to make sure the patients (victims?) get the full effect of the treatment their eyelids are held open by tiny clippy thing-a-ma-bobs. It is not pretty (I saw the film, as well).
This consequently results in the patient being unable even to choose between good and evil – as having been conditioned to be sickened by violence the luxury of choice has been taken from them. Which basically means that the government is out to repress the damaged individuals (and trigger a decrease in prison population), instead of actually attempting to assist them to become ‘better’ humans.
Of course, the real question is ‘true’ goodness achieved by choice? Or is goodness achieved by having external forces foisting that goodness on you? Isn’t every one of our actions defined and signified by our choices? Actions would be meaningless without choice. Without choice, we would all inherently be robots.
I tell you, this story will definitely have you munching on your hair about the difference between good and evil. After all, what’s one without the other? Good is defined by the presence of evil, and this is definitely evident in Alex’s change following the treatment – any thought or reference to violence triggers in him a desire to be sick, despite the violence always being his first option. Several times, he desires to attack someone only to have the urge to be sick follow the thought. Alex is a twisted young teen at the start – one definitely feels that he should be helped to see the error of his ways, but it would be infinitely more satisfying if Alex were to see the error of his ways on his own. Instead of through such a dark and twisted process. So is it better to have a perfect society, devoid of choice as well as violence? Or one which encourages individuality and freedom of choice, despite the terrifying consequences it might lead to?
I admit this novel is a little dark – had me cringing a lot at times but it’s definitely worth it to keep on and read the entire novel. It’s quite an eye-opener.