He Said, She Said: A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Vega and Melissa Sikes


By Anthony Vega

First off it is fair to state that A Clockwork Or­ange is not a title that should be taken lightly. The imagery the title provides is both a literal and metaphori­cal abomination. Imagine, if you would this clockwork or­ange, a synthesized fruit made of gears and cogs mechanized by the arbitrary will of anoth­er entity. How would any sen­tient being react to an orange composed entirely of steel and machinery, a food that could never provide nourishment? This organism is wholly arti­ficial and therefore cannot by any means be held to the same standards of morality that free thinking individuals com­mit themselves unto. Taking a moment to contemplate these ideas, we find ourselves with a perplexing set of questions that truly press on without clear answers. And that was all from the title alone. That is what makes A Clockwork Or­ange a much better book than a movie, there is meaning in every word and our lives be­come much more complicated every time we remember its sad story.

A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962 in the United Kingdom. Written by Anthony Burgess, the book’s philosophical questions were sparked by his personal expe­riences in dealing with vast amounts of human cruelty. After his wife had been raped and assaulted by US soldiers in London, Anthony Burgess decided to write A Clockwork Orange as a productive way to explore free will and to deal with these unfair tragic events. He wrote the novella in three weeks for quick cash but according to Burgess his book would ultimately be mis­interpreted due to the movie adaption directed by Stanley Kubrick. It’s easy to see that the books story had far more personal meaning and insight to it than the violence that the movie glorifies.

Originally intended to be 21 chapters in order to reflect the themes of encroaching maturity, A Clockwork Or­ange is told in its entirety by a 15-year-old boy named Alex who lives in a near future Lon­don. One of the book’s central motifs is Alex’s constant use of his generation’s slang. The vernacular he uses to commu­nicate is, at times, very con­fusing but by using language to demonstrate the divide be­tween older and younger gen­erations we can see the split much more clearly. As Alex narrates to the reader his various exploits it’s clear that Alex is easily entertained by his fashionable and incred­ibly sadistic lifestyle. Events throughout the book highlight Alex’s capacity for evil but also perpetuate the idea that he, as a free thinking individual, has an intrinsic right to com­mit evil. Any attempt to make Alex a clockwork orange, a be­ing with no right to choose, would be an abomination. So in that sense we can see how the author is able to make peace with the horrible things that we’re willing to do to each other. All of these philosophi­cal ideas are explored in the book, but in contrast, merely shrugged off in the movie.


By Melissa Sikes

If you are like me, you had heard about the nov­el, A Clockwork Orange, but never picked the book up. And perhaps, instead, chose to partake in the cinematic displeasure of the deliciously violent ordeal that Stanley Kubrick threw together in 1971. The novel by Anthony Burgess revolves around the comings and goings of young Alex the Large, or DeLarge (as he is known in the film). A rambunctious lad, Alex and his three droogs take part in ultraviolence (acts of incredi­ble brutality and aggression), ranging from physical assault to the ol’ nonconsensual in-out. After Alex is left behind for the police by his droogs, he is taken into custody and then sentenced to fourteen years in prison for murder.

After two years of incar­ceration, Alex is selected to participate in a new refor­mation technique. Hopeless and longing to be free on the streets again, Alex unknow­ingly signs away his moral choice to take part in this two week program. The largest question raised in the book, is it more moral to choose to commit wrongful acts or to be brainwashed into doing good against your own will? Burgess leaves it for you to decide.

Unlike the book, Kubrick’s film, A Clockwork Orange, ends on a bit of a pessimistic note. With Alex’s last line, “I was cured, all right,” I was hooked. I could not believe it. Kubrick had me rooting for the villainous juvenile delin­quent.  The film adaptation sur­passes the moral questioning that is scattered throughout the book. Was Alex cured? Or is his perception wholly violated to the point of no re­turn?

While I did enjoy the book, I think the film took the perfect route. Anthony Burgess is in­capable of truly depicting the imagery of all the horror Alex and his droogs committed. You cannot even fathom the depth of the atrocities until Stan­ley Kubrick orchestrates the vivid picture with his paint­brush of audacity. Kubrick took this story and evolved it into the shameless tale it was meant to be. My props go to the original author, of course, but the intuition shown by Kubrick is astounding.

Kubrick played just as much behind the scenes as he did in front of the camera, taking his much appreciated artistic liberties. For exam­ple, when Kubrick allegedly learned of lead actor Malcom McDowell’s reptile phobia, he introduced Basil, Alex’s pet ball python, to the film. By using a variety of elements to bring the film to life, Kubrick was not only pushing the mental and physical capacity of the actors, but the sensory boundaries of the audience. The discomfort brought about by the film is all encompass­ing. It is effective to both the viewer and participant.

That is all I have to say for now, O my brothers. I highly recommend the film, because as Alex says, “[It was] bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeous­ity made flesh.”document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);