Antony Burgess -

A Clockwork Orange

By Antony Burgess


Antony Burgess was born in Manchester in 1917 and studied English at the university there. He was drafted into the army upon graduation in 1940 and spent six years in the education corps. After demobilisation, he worked as a grammar-school master. From 1954 to 1960 he was an education officer in the colonial Service. He was stationed in Malaya and Borneo where started writing the ”Malayan Trilogy”. In 1959 Burgess was diagnosed as having an inoperable brain tumour. So he became a full-time writer and wrote at least one book a year until his death in 1993. Before starting to write Burgess had composed many full-scale works for orchestra and other media. Among his many works are ”A Clockwork Orange”, ”Tremor of Intent”, ”Honey for the Bears” and ”Urgent Copy”.

Plot 47182lij69lgv1d

The story is set in a not-too-distant future, which where the seventies for the author. The fifteen year-old boy Alex and his three friends Georgie, Pete and Dim murder, rob, torture and rape for fun. Alex is the leader of their gang. The four boys have always been not to come in touch with the police and to be arrested. When Georgie wants to become the leader of the gang one day, Alex turns this away by knocking down Georgie and Dim. When the boys assault the house of an old lady Alex is betrayed by his friends. When they hear the siren of the police they fell him and flee. The old lady dies of her injuries and so Alex is arrested. At the police station Alex confesses all his vicious crimes after being beaten up by police officers. Afterwards he is sent to prison. There he spends two years before being involved in the murder of a cell inmate: All his inmates report that it was him alone who beat the victim up. So the government decides to undertake to reform Alex and to transform him into a worthy member of the society. He is sent to a treatment centre. There he is given a medicine which makes him feel sick after a few minutes. After every injection he is shown a film about different types of violence (Japanese torture, crimes of the Nazis, ...) and so becomes violently sick. After a few weeks Alex’s body adopts this reaction and he becomes sick even without the medicine. A few months later he is released and a free man again. He returns to his family, but they send him away. Alex walks to the library where he meets some people he has beaten up in former times. Since Alex is not even able to think of defending himself without getting sick those people beat him up until they are stopped by the police. But the policemen are some of Alex’s former enemies and so they take him to the outskirts where they beat him up and leave him to die. Alex manages to reach a house where he finds shelter. The man there is a politician of the opposition party. He wants Alex to be seen as a victim of the government and so to subvert the government. Alex is no more able to think about his dirty deeds and becomes more and more unhappy. He even attempts to commit suicide but he survives. While he is lying in hospital he is cured from his treatment and becomes again evil Alex. He forms a new gang with three new but younger boys. Some day he meets Pete, member of his old gang who is now married. This sets Alex thinking about himself and so he realizes that he, who has just turned eighteen has become mature. He leaves behind his sins of his youth and starts a new life.


”A Clockwork Orange” is about brainwashing, man’s violent nature and his capacity to choose between good and evil. In the world of this story the only reason for living is to work from dawn till dusk. Every man lives like a clockwork or a programmed computer. Nobody puts up a fight against this phenomenon, only a few adolescents are frustrated. They think that their dull lives are only made tolerable by drugs, sex and violence. The book underlies the question if it is better for a man to be bad than to be conditioned to be good. Another very important thing about the book is the language: it is a blending of the English language with the Russian.

Characters ig182l7469lggv

In the beginning Alex is a very evil fifteen year-old boy. He tortures, rapes and robs to feel satisfied. He never sees that his deeds are very evil (e. g. he rapes two ten-year-old girls who have not gone to school, Alex says: ”If they have no education, they have to learn something else”). In prison he does not stop being a bad person. Only at the treatment centre he becomes a good person but only because he looses his ability to choose between the good and the evil. When he leaves the treatment centre, his life is practically over. He is no longer able to think about evil deeds. He becomes a machine only capable of good. He also cannot think of sexual intercourse (which reminds him of rape) and he cannot hear his beloved classical music (because it was played along with the films).

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