Summary and Synopsis of A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgessthe’s most famous novel is A Clockwork Orange. The book, written in the dystopian genre, was published in 1962 and adapted into a film in 1971. The text is told through the eyes of young Alex, whose entire life is riddled with criminal wrongdoings. Anthony’s novel demonstrates that human behaviour is predictable and cannot be corrected externally. However, Anthony emphasizes that a person is only a person when making their own decisions.

The work is written in an odd way, with a lot of invented slang, which the author has adapted from the original Russian text. The book’s themes also have a slight political twist – the author couldn’t help but criticize totalitarian governments for violating human rights. Overall, the text is full of fascinating details, and the book is well worth reading.

This summary gives you a good idea of what the novel is about; feel free to use it to ace an essay or to get a sense of whether or not you would enjoy reading the book. If you don’t have time to read all of this and still need that essay, use our writing service, and you’ll have it in no time!

 

Novel “A Clockwork Orange” Characters

George, Pete, and Dim

They are members of Alex’s gang, whom he refers to as “droogs” (friends). Together with Alex, they enjoy robbing local stores, beating up drunk people, and raping women. However, they aren’t truly loyal to him in the following ways: George seizes every opportunity to discredit Alex as a gang leader, and they all abandon Alex to be apprehended by police in the middle of one of their crimes. Dim would later become a police officer, whereas George was killed during a robbery. Pete eventually abandons his crooked path, marries, and even speaks proper English. Alex’s encounter with Pete inspires him to end his wrongdoings and start a family.

 

  1. Alexander

The name F. Alexander, who was Alex’s first victim and acquaintance, is referenced. Upon breaking into his home, the lads come upon chapters from a novel titled “A Clockwork Orange,” which they use to insult him and his ideals. F. Alexander is terrified after his wife dies after being brutally violated. After realizing that Alex has been subjected to Ludovico’s rehabilitation procedure, F. Alexander utilizes Alex to further his anti-interference beliefs about interfering with people’s decision-making. He subjected Alex to more tests hoping that the boy would commit suicide. Instead, Alex survives by jumping from the 7th floor, and the fall helps him regain his will to do whatever he wants.

 

Alex

The name F. Alexander, who was Alex’s first victim and acquaintance, is referenced. Upon breaking into his home, the lads come upon chapters from a novel titled “A Clockwork Orange,” which they use to insult him and his ideals. F. Alexander is terrified after his wife dies after being brutally violated. After realizing that Alex has been subjected to Ludovico’s rehabilitation procedure, F. Alexander utilizes Alex to further his anti-interference beliefs about interfering with people’s decision-making. He subjected Alex to more tests hoping that the boy would commit suicide. Instead, Alex survives by jumping from the 7th floor, and the fall helps him regain his will to do whatever he wants.

 

Billyboy

He is the rival gang leader, and they have many fights with Alex and his “droogs” before Alex is imprisoned. While Alex is imprisoned, he and Dim become cops and then beat him up when he is released.

 

Dr. Branom and Dr. Brodsky

They are the scientists who created the Ludovico Technique, a method of rehabilitating criminals by administering drugs followed by displaying violent images and movies. As a result, even the thought of committing any wrongdoing is supposed to make the subjects physically ill. They also play Alex’s favourite classical music during the treatment to make him more “sensitive.” As a result, whether Alex listens to music that he used to enjoy or thinks about the activities he used to do on a regular basis, he experiences discomfort.

 

Prison Chaplain

This man is one of the few who opposes the Ludovico technique. He is convinced that people should change their own volition and attempts to dissuade Alex from taking part. Alex disregards the chaplain’s advice.

 

Prison Governor and Minister of the Interior (The Inferior)

People who support the Ludovico technique select Alex as one of the first subjects to test the treatment.

 

The Clockwork Orange Facts

  • As the novel is written in the dystopian genre, it implies that society is headed for a gloomy future.
  • The characters in A Clockwork Orange communicate in a slang language known as Nadsat, which is full of invented words and phrases. The author describes his book as a “linguistic adventure.”
  • Alex is the main character in the story. This unhappy young man commits multiple crimes with little or no remorse, and his family is distraught about his actions.
  • Ludovico’s technique effectively deterred Alex from committing criminal offences. It is portrayed as an experimental clinical and psychological treatment that is thought to prevent recidivism. It is supposed to change the worst criminals’ bad behaviour by providing constant negative reinforcement.
  • Alex eventually regains his ability to commit crimes, but he quickly loses interest in doing so. He decides that making something is preferable to self-destruction.
  • Later editions of the book included an introduction in which the author explained his main ideas. He does, however, state that “it is not the novelist’s job to preach; it is his duty to show” (Introduction). The author tries to describe the events as neutrally as possible and leaves it up to the readers to draw their conclusions.
  • Human freedom and how it changes throughout one’s life, the boundaries between freedom of action and criminal interference, humans’ ability to turn a blind eye to things that disgust us, the role of police and prison services in society, and how individuals’ morality coincides (or does not coincide) with the laws of the land are all topics and themes to write essays about in this book.

 

Summary and Synopsis of A Clockwork Orange

Alex, the book’s narrator, welcomes the reader into what the future of modern society looks like. Alex and his young friends – Pete, George, and Dim – have their usual evening, which includes drinking, drugging, and beating up on older people and members of other gangs. Their language is rife with slang, and they enjoy inserting Russian words into every sentence, such as “v kaif” (to enjoy), “tolchok” (kick), “starikashka” (old man), or “maltchiki” (boys). The boys break into a man’s house and rape his wife during the night. The man’s name is F. Alexander, and it turns out that he is a writer. Pages from his manuscripts about a “clockwork orange” were strewn about the house. The strange title piques Alex’s interest:

Part I, Chapter 2: “…I read a malenky (a little) bit out loud in a sort of very high type preaching goloss (voice): – The attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and sweetness, capable of oozing juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, the attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen” Part II, Chapter 2:

The boys make fun of the writer’s ideas and throw him to the ground, leaving him wounded.

Alex is by himself the next day, but he manages to have an excellent time anyhow. Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart are among the composers whose music he enjoys listening to. It is stated by the young man that his friends do not recognize his excellent sense of taste in music and that they listen to hip hop music. He manages to track down two young girls and coerces them into “submitting to the bizarre and weird wants of Alexander the Large” (Part I, Chapter 4) while listening to his favourite musical compositions. The following day, Alex and his friends set out to steal silver from a lady who makes enough noise to draw the attention of the police. The boys can escape, but the authorities apprehend Alex. Alex notes that his gangmates were constantly envious of their leader, amusing. Despite the fact that Alex has been involved in criminal activity for a significant amount of time, the police are not familiar with him:

“Everyone is familiar with tiny Alex and his “droogs,” according to Chapter 7 of Part I. (friends). Our Alex has grown up to be quite a well-known young man.”

The woman whose silver the boys stole dies due to the wounds she received during the robbery. In addition, Alex’s cellmate is murdered. Even though he is only a minor, he gets a lengthy prison sentence due to this (15 years old). He dislikes being in jail and can’t wait to get out. But he makes no amends and shows no remorse. He believes he needs to be more cautious to avoid being caught the next time. Alex meets with the prison priest for a while. He is eventually chosen for an experimental treatment to correct his “Ludovico Technique.” He is fed, and then doctors inject him with drugs and show him memorable films. Alex is shown videos of various crimes, and the drugs in his system (believed to be a kind of “vaccine” against future crimes) cause him to feel sick while watching the videos. The films are fierce and twisted:

Chapter 4: “This time the film jumped directly on a young devotchka (a girl) who was being given the old in-out by first one malchick (a male), then another, then another, and she was screeching away through the speakers quite gromky (loud)… Unless the Good or the State made these films, it is difficult to envision them being permitted to take these films without interfering with what was going on.”

He is compelled to watch the tapes by the prison physicians. Some nurses even play Alex’s preferred classical music to heighten his sensitivity and aid in developing his right reflex, which is a rare occurrence. Alex concludes with the following statement:

The fourth chapter of Part II begins, “I began to feel ill. I experienced such pains all over and felt like I could throw up while also not throwing up, and I began to feel like I was in misery, O my brothers, for I was also fastened rigidly in this chair.”

After two weeks of treatment, Alex allegedly began to feel terrible when thinking about committing crimes. To feel good, he needed to behave well. After such an experimental probation method, the young delinquent was released from prison. In the aftermath of his release, Alex became a victim, as he was battered by his prior victims, the police, and his former friends (many of whom have joined the police forces). It was impossible for the youngster to fight back because it would only make him feel worse. His parents, who had previously forgiven him numerous times, were no longer benevolent to their son. The boy was depressed, and he couldn’t even listen to his favourite music because it made him sick. One day, Alex meets F. Alexander, who tells him that what happened to him was totalitarian state control over his human body and thoughts. Alex’s options and freedom to make his own decisions had been taken away by the state. In the course of the novel, it would be revealed that F. Alexander was the man Alex and his pals had robbed at the beginning of the novel. His wife died that night, and the husband became insane as a result. He doesn’t recognize Alex at first, and Alex thinks F. Alexander is insane.

When F. Alexander realizes that Alex is the source of his sorrows, he decides to coerce him into committing suicide while blaming the government for their experimental rehab therapy. All of the man’s friends, who are all members of a human rights movement, get together to catch Alex. It is his captors who cage him and force him to listen to Beethoven’s music, which causes Alex a great deal of distress. Alex then attempts to flee by jumping out the 7th-floor window. When he finally awakens in the hospital, he is cured of his rehabilitation treatment and is free to resume his wrongdoings. He forms a new gang and returns to being a bad boy. Alex eventually realizes that he no longer enjoys his life as it is. He meets Pete, his “ex-droog,” who has married and started a family. Alex is also drawn to the idea of owning a home, marrying, and having a child… That’s when he realizes his wild youth has come to an end, and he naturally matures into adulthood.

 

A Clockwork Orange Themes

Morality and ethics: The novel takes place in a society full of young delinquents who do drugs, steal, and commit crimes with no remorse. They live an immoral existence; however, is it ethical to force them to change their ways? The reader is torn between disgust at the atrocities committed by young children and the moral quandary of destroying someone’s will.

Communication and language. This theme emphasizes how much our words reflect our personalities. The reader can tell Alex was a troubled child from the first sentence. The carelessness in his tone and use of slang shows how disconnected he is from the society we all know. Nadsat emphasized the book’s distinct genre and Alex’s gang as a class.

Fate and Free Will: A central theme of the novel is that attempting to change a man against his will is futile. The meaning of A Clockwork Orange is an artificial mechanical interference with the natural course of events. After Alex loses his ability to commit crimes, society does not improve. It merely reverses the victim-perpetrator relationship, and those who used to suffer as a result of Alex’s atrocities begin to exploit his vulnerability. Alex chooses to be “good” even though he has the total capacity to be “bad” – he was in control of his fate and decided that he no longer wanted to be self-destructive. Every man must learn from his errors.

Manipulation: Alex’s behaviour was manipulated; he agreed to undergo experimental treatment solely to get out of jail. He was eager to exact vengeance on his adversaries and return to his former life. However, he was unable to do so once he was released. This was not the life he had planned for himself, and we don’t know if he would have agreed to the treatment if he had known the consequences.

Violence. Even though the novel is fierce and violent, it is included in many school literature programs. There is also a great lesson and a lot to think about in this text. Alex’s gang is brutal to defenceless people, and his friends do not spare Alex from exacting revenge on him when he cannot defend himself.

Government’s Inherent Evil The author wrote this dystopian novel to emphasize the seriousness with which governments can meddle in people’s personal affairs. The Minister approved the treatment of the Interior for the “greater societal good” of preventing crime. Nobody cared about what was best for a specific person or the personal consequences.

Alex’s transformation was a sham, and his victims were well aware of it. When Dr Brodsky presented his successful therapy outcomes, the audience correctly pointed out:

Part II, Chapter 7: “Doesn’t seem to be much of choice, does he? He committed that heinous act of self-abasement out of self-interest and apprehension for bodily suffering. Its lack of earnestness was easily discernible. He no longer qualifies as an offender. He also ceases to be a creature with the ability to make moral decisions.”

Power. The author demonstrates in his book that one of the most potent powers is control over someone’s will. Even F. Alexander wasn’t afraid to use Alex to further his agenda: accuse the government of interfering with personal business and violating human rights.

 

A Clockwork Orange Analysis and Interpretation

Ending: The book’s final chapter was not included in its original publication in the United States. American publishers believed that their audience would not accept such a miraculous change in Alex’s behaviour. A bad boy who suddenly decides to be good sounded too much like a fairy tale, so the publishers decided to omit the final chapter and let their readers make up their minds about what happened to Alex. After 1986, the book was published entirely, including the book’s positive and reassuring final chapter.

The first question that usually needs to be answered is, “What is the meaning of a clockwork orange?” The author explains himself in the introduction to later editions of the book: “I mean it to stand for the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing with juice and sweetness” (Introduction). Another possible explanation stems from the word “orange,” which in some languages means “man.” Finally, there is a theory that the author overheard the phrase “clockwork orange” used as a slang expression in a pub. This expression denoted someone who was “queer.”

Background, imagery, and allegory: The book was written during the author’s return to England. At the time, the country was overwhelmed by rising juvenile crime rates. During WWII, Burgess’ first wife was beaten by drunk soldiers stationed in their town. Little details, such as a “Home” sign at the entrance to F. Alexander’s house, or gang boys mixing drugs with milk, indicate that crime coexisted with normal life, and no one could feel completely safe.

Symbolism: The book is divided into three parts, each with seven chapters. The 21 chapters are all symbolic and represent the maturation of a young man into an adult. People are thought to become adults when they reach 16, 18, or 21. However, the book emphasizes that each person must face their own set of challenges to truly mature and begin making responsible decisions.