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I have found themes for A Clockwork Orange, but I am trying to approach this book under...

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trialanderror | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM via web

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I have found themes for A Clockwork Orange, but I am trying to approach this book under postmodernism. How can I do this?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:31 PM (Answer #1)

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If I were you, I would want to approach this text through analysing the concept of free will. In a sense, this text asks a massive postmodernist question, which is what it is to be human. Through the Ludovico Technique, we have a thoroughly evil character, Alex, who is compelled to be good. Burgess very interestingly uses this situation to think about whether somebody who is forced to be good is actually better than somebody who chooses to be evil.

Alex is surely one of the most chilling characters in literature because of his absolute lack of remorse and the way that his evil nature rules his life. When he does start to behave well, it is clear that this is not something that is "natural" for him, as the desire to do good is something that has been created superficially within him by a government who wants to control their populace and their desires. The Ludovico Technique manages to erase the bad aspects of Alex's character, but the novel suggests that this also is tantamount to making him less than human, as he loses his freedom to choose his actions. This, Burgess suggests, is actually a crime that is worse than any of Alex's misdemeanours.

It is very significant that F. Alexander, the writer that is beaten up by Alex and his droogs, says the following comment to Alex:

They have turned you into something other than a human being. You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good.

As he says later on, "A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man." This text therefore raises a very postmodern theme in its examination of what it actually means to be human. Clearly any behaviour that is imposed upon us that takes away our freedom to choose is something that detracts from our humanity.

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