How is Alex the protagonist of A Clockwork Orange?

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One of the interesting aspects of reading complex literature is that readers begin to encounter protagonists who have a multi-dimensional relationship with good and evil. In many children’s stories and young adult books, protagonists are the center of the story because of their positive attributes, and because they are the epitome of good, while they face antagonists that are the epitome of evil. However, many literary books do not contain such clean-cut dichotomies between protagonists and antagonists. The simple definition of a protagonist is the character who is central to the narrative of a story, and who undergoes major change that drives the story’s development and often culminates in the climax of the plot.

Traditionally, protagonists are also called the heroes of a story, and oftentimes they are mostly good, but possess certain immoral character flaws. In A Clockwork Orange, Alex is the protagonist, but he is also known as an “antihero,” which is what we call protagonists who not only possess one moral weakness, but are actually mostly amoral. Despite the fact that Alex rapes, steals, and tortures people in the book, he’s still the protagonist and fulfills the basic requirements of a protagonist throughout the story. He remains the central character of the narrative and undergoes major changes that function as the climax of the plot when he is forced to undergo the Ludovico Technique and is tortured by the writer whose wife he raped in the beginning of the book.

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