Violence in A Clockwork Orange Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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This chapter is unusually short; it is probably the shortest in the book. And yet the violence that takes place in the chapter is extremely graphic. It seems more intense because it is concentrated in two ways: firstly, it is limited by the more obvious confines of the prison cell walls; but secondly, it is confined in a metaphorical sense within the walls of a very small chapter. Therefore one would expect the chapter to be weak.

But instead Burgess manages to cram every shocking image into a small space, concentrating the violence into one large, disturbing image. Scenes are described such as the Wall fisted his rot and a horrorshow kick on the gulliver. These are nothing special when compared to some of the actions of the previous chapters. But what makes the entire scene stick in the readers mind is how complete the description of it is.

Added to the images are the descriptions of sounds, such as oh oh oh and the new plenny creeched. Furthermore is the vivid and widespread use of the colour red: there are the usual copious amounts of dripping red krovvy; and the entire scene is cast in an ominous blood-like glow from the red light from the landing, which almost sounds like a filming technique, even though it is used to good effect here.

As usual, there is an element of comedy in the chapter. Whereas the comedy of the previous chapters has normally been slapstick in nature (such as the unforgettable image of Alex being beaten by a swashbuckling old woman, surrounded by meowing koshkas), the characters in this chapter are more developed and have distinct personalities of their own. Some of them, such as Big Jew and The Doctor, almost sound as if they should be comic book villains.

They also have a variety of accents: The Doctor speaks with A very high like gentlemans goloss and Big Jews impediment is obvious due to the fact that Burgess only gives him things to say that contain a lot of Ss (Yeth, yeth, boyth, thatth fair). The nature of, and the purpose for, the violence in this chapter is signified by the institution in which it takes place: a prison. These prisoners, presumably perpetrators of terrible crimes, are socially crippled, and are looking for something to provide them with structure within the cell walls: violence is their only escape.

When Burgess uses such intensely graphic details, he is commenting on the nature of punishment (the Question of Punishment was in Burgess day, and is still today, subject to fierce debate). Either Alex and his cellmates do not see the consequences of their actions, or they see it as a case of not being able to be punished for it further, since they are already in the worst place they could be. In fact, many would condone the violence in this chapter for moral purposes, because the victim is actually a prisoner himself somebody that maybe deserves what is coming to him.

(ii) How does Burgess express individual and social brutality in the novel as a whole? Throughout the novel Burgess uses physical violence to emphasise a point. But less obvious and perhaps more important is the use of social and psychological brutality by certain people and institutions. The most important example of psychological brutality is Ludovicos Technique. The government, in an effort to cure the lust for graphic violence, is using graphic violence. It is fighting fire with fire. Burgess has little sympathy with the government, and portrays it as clinical, faceless and unfeeling.

Ludovicos Technique even has an element of physical violence the holding back of eyelids and the injections are brutal in the extreme. But mostly, it causes psychological damage. Whereas Alex used a britva for penetration of the skin and body, Ludovicos Technique is being used by the government as a weapon to penetrate the mind. In effect, they are both efforts to control the victim. It is interesting how Burgess forces our perception of brutality to change when he uses different people as victims and perpetrators in different parts of the book.

The most obvious example of this is Alex. During the first half he is a brutal and violent thug, and despite him being the protagonist, the reader has little sympathy. Yet when he is the victim, particularly of the obsessed author of A Clockwork Orange, one cannot help but feel something. The patron of the library is also a good example. When he is the victim early on in the book, he is harmless and weak, and the attack on him is brutal. It signifies the downfall of literature and its reduced status in Alexs world.

Yet when Alex is the victim of this same man and his cronies, it is a symbol of his downfall in the real world. The violence is still brutal, and one still feels pity for Alex. But in both cases it means something. And again, it also raises the question of punishment. Should a victim seek revenge on his attacker if he ever has the chance? There is only one group in the book that does not resort to any kind of brutality, individual, social or psychological. This group is the Church, represented by the charlie.

Instead, the Church issues various philosophical arguments on the importance of choice. It is almost as if Burgess intends the Church to be the mediator in the battle between the individual and the government. The Church is the only entity that judges in the novel, and Burgess portrays it as being wise. Yet, as indicated by the chaplains lack of power concerning the Ludovico Technique, Burgess also portrays the Church as being weak a neutral body that is caught in the crossfire.

Burgess subjects everybody in the book to violence of some kind, and most characters become attackers, whether psychologically or physically. The police are seen as corrupt in two instances: both when they beat Alex up after he is caught, and also later on in the book, on a more sinister level, when Alexs traitor ex-friends, now policemen, beat him badly. Even the detestable PR Deltoid, who is pathetically unaware of what Alex is up to early in the book, becomes a shocking character when he simply spits on Alex one might say that this is as bad as actual physical brutality.

Burgess has a good reason for making everybody participate in the brutality: his book is essentially about the nature of choice, but is also a comment on the nature of the human being. Everyone has a morbid fascination with violence, everybody commits a violent act (not necessarily physical), and essentially, when all is said and done, every person is born with some kind of inherent evil that becomes apparent at least once later in life.

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