The Disadvantage of Violating Free Will
The story of A Clockwork Orange conveys so many elements which are related to the aspect of free will. One of them is the way the violation of free will affects the character’s behavior. Based on Jean Paul Sartre’s illustration about freedom, people who are incapable of using their own free will and let the external influence to affect their choice are considered as those who suffer from ‘nausea’ (Nausea, according to Sartre, is a condition where men become disgusted with their own existence). These men possess a lack of determination to take responsibility of their action and they become the one whom Sarte holds a contempt the most. Sartre compares these men’s passiveness to stone or plants. Thus, these men cease to be human due to their passiveness which resemble a stone or their inability to become self-determined which resemble plants.
The depiction of such characteristic of man who ceases to be human as stated by Sartre due to the violation of their own free will is analyzed through the data which are previously shown in the findings section. They are presented below:
Vulnerable to death
As revealed in data 1, the old man chooses to become passive and lets Alex and his brutal gang beat him mercilessly. By showing no sign of defense to protect himself, it is obvious that the old man gives up on everything, including his own existence. His characters matches perfectly with Sartre’s description of those who suffer from ‘nausea’. He ceases to be a human because he does not put any significant effort to make his existence meaningful, or in this case he refuses to think of any choice that can makes him survive from the pointless death that could befall him.
Reduced to cowardice
As stated in data 4, the prison chaplain, despite being the only character who explicitly gives a lecture about the importance of free will in the novel, initially refuses to directly express his objection towards the effect of Ludovico Technique in front of the state officials. The chaplain’s free will is intervened by his fear of losing his current job in the prison. He is too afraid of taking responsibility for speaking the truth. According to Sartre, a man like the prison chaplain is considered as a true coward whose humanity ceases to the point that his own existence no longer becomes authentic as he lets the other existence (in this case, the state) to influence his essence as a human.
Passiveness with no moral compass
It is revealed in data 5 that Alex has been conditioned into a “well-behaved” man whose free will is completely taken through the recreational experiment called Ludovico Technique. He is psychologically tortured when being forced to watch a series of films who depict real violence. As a result of such program, Alex becomes a man who gets weak and ill whenever there is a presence of violence. He is also prone to cry like a baby which is actually an opposite of his real personality as a tough, violent, and strong man who refuses to be meek. Based on Sartre’s point of view, a man like Alex also ceases to be a human because he is not capable to determine his own choice in his current state. Rather than being good or well behaved, he is instead turned into something more like a living corpse who does not acknowledge both good and evil. He is a passive creature who becomes vulnerable to danger without a will power to protect his lifed.
Vulnerabe to violence and the loss of dignity
As stated in data 8, Alex is totally vulnerable to danger without the existence of his free will. His passiveness makes him defenseless against any harms which are intended towards him. He does not even have a will power to fight a group of elderly men despite being a young man who is physically stronger than them. He is unable to make moral choice, even something like self-defense. As for data 9, another negative effect of the violation of free will is also shown when Alex fails to defend his rights and status in his own house. Alex cannot fight against the new lodger in his house who self-proclaims himself as the new son of Alex’s parents. His inability to use free will leads him to lose his own dignity even in a place where he should become the way he is supposed to be. In this case, Sartre describes a man like Alex as the one who is not happy with his decision because he carries out someone else’s will. In other words, Alex carries out the effect of Ludovico Technique which is imposed on him by the authoritarian state.
The Importance of Using Free Will
The story of A Clockwork Orange also conveys the way all the characters undergo development of behavior with the assistance of the choice they make on their own, whether it leads them to good or bad things. Based on Jean Paul Sartre’s illustration about freedom, people who are capable of using their own free will no matter what condition that befall them are considered as those who ‘suffer’ from freedom and the one whom Sartre respects the most. Sartre states that this type of man cannot be compared to stones, plants, or any inanimate objects. They are the real human who are blessed with the capacity of self-determination and they are so brave for not feeling afraid of the consequences they must bear as the cost of their action. The depiction of the characteristic of real human as stated by Sartre due to the importance of free will is also analyzed through the data which are previously shown in the findings section. They are presented below:
Appreciation towards art
As revealed in data 2, Alex chooses to defend a female singer from Dim’s verbal harassment by ridiculing him to be so low and ignorant to the value of art. Alex’s determination to be not on Dim’s side despite being in the same violent gang with him proves himself as a true human or more humane than Dim because he is not afraid of using his free will against his own friend’s fault. Just like Sartre’s definition of man who suffer from freedom, Alex is the one who ‘suffer’ here as later it is revealed that he bears the risk of his action, which is the resentment and betrayal from his gang.
Accepting evil as natural thing
It is stated in data 3 that Alex defends his decision to become a man who enjoys committing violence for pure satisfaction. He despises his advisor’s idea about the way a person’s violent nature does not come on its own but rather as a result of the past experience that affects them like broken home cases, child abuses, or financial problems. Alex never go through such hardships though. He chooses violence because he loves to do it. He believes that evil things come naturally as good things. Thus, it makes Alex once again becomes a true human who acknowledges the existence of both good and evil even though he has to suffer from this kind of freedom like what Sartre has defined in his existentialism philosophy; “Man is condemned to be free”, which in Alex’s case, it means that his free will costs him an imprisonment.
A bravery with the cost of misery
As revealed in data 7, the prison chaplain Charlie proves himself to be a true human as well for defending Alex and voicing his own opinion bravely towards the cruelty behind the Ludovico Technique in front of the state officials. The chaplain also become a man who suffers from freedom here because his free will leads him to a consequence, which is losing his job and chance of promotion. It is just like the way Sartre has confirmed that sometimes the cost of free will does not bring people into success.
Independent man who refuse to be manipulated
It is revealed in data 10 that Alex once again proves himself as a true human by refusing to become a sacrificial pawn for some liberal activists’ plan to overthrow the government. Alex does not even care about both parties because he thinks of the government and these liberal activists are equally hypocritical with their agenda in creating social welfare. Unlike the previous cases, this time Alex’s decision in choosing that refusal leads him into good thing. The effect of Ludovico Technique is removed from his body and his original self is restored. He is back to be a human who is able to use his free will, unlike his previous state as a passive and zombie-like creature.
Grow mature naturally
It is stated in data 11 that Alex starts to show one significant step to become not only true but also a better human. It turns out that he grows tired of committing violence. It is proved when he chooses to not participate in beating defenseless people and even criticizes his underling for committing such coward behavior. In addition, Alex also naturally changes into a softer person which he himself does not even know the reason behind it. Therefore it is safe to say that Alex definitely no longer suffers from freedom. It is completely the opposite as he gradually heads his way to a life full of light and hope as a result of using his free will. A man like Alex, as described by Sartre, is the most authentic because he acts according to his true faith, not because of the intervention from anyone else.
Authentic man who acknowledge good on his own
Regarding the final decision he makes for his life, Alex chooses to stop involving himself in a world of violence and decides to find a ‘mother’ for his future son. As revealed in data 12 and 13, he deeply thinks of this choice after meeting his old friend Pete who is married and employed. He slowly changes into a better person and grows mature naturally without such thing like behavioral intervention called Ludovico Technique. He finally embraces things that are good after experimenting with evil things. Thus, it is obvious that Sartre proves his statement right when he said that human’s existence precedes their essence. It means that Alex’s sole existence is the one that determines his essence whether it is good or bad essence. He defines himself with his own authentic existence, not by the force of another existence.
Free Will in Relation to Counterculture Movement
For the last part in this discussion section, the writer presents the analysis of the concept of free will in this novel which reflects several social aspects in the era of counterculture movement. The writer applies the Genetic Structuralism approach by Lucien Goldmann to analyze the discovered data which are related to the aforementioned topic.
The element of youth culture which takes form of the use of hallucinogen drugs and the trend of extravagant fashion is one of the social structure strongly emphasized in this novel. The choice of this lifestyle is seemingly based on the purpose of creating the youth’s own identity or the freedom of expression so that they can be recognized as a separate special existence from the others. The writer relates the youth who take part in this culture with the concept of ‘collective subject’. Collective subject, as stated by Lucien Goldmann, is a group which consists of individuals or a whole unit of community who creates a complete and comprehensive understanding about life through their human activity. By corresponding to such concept, it can be stated that as a collective subject, the youth community which consists of Alex and his juvenile gang along with their bizarre lifestyle creates a new social phenomenon called ‘subculture’ (a type of cultural group within the dominant one). The depiction of the use of hallucinogen and the choice of weird fashion sense both act as human facts that build this kind of collective subject. The phenomenon of subculture as revealed in this novel is somehow related to the life of hippie community which rose to fame during the counterculture movement in 1960s. Thus, it is obvious that there is an existence of homology built between the structure of literary works and the structure of real society. For instance, the way the main protagonist chooses to experience temporary pleasure and spiritual connection through consuming unknown hallucinogen drugs probably reflects the way the hippies experimented with psychedelic drugs like LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) to alter their consciousness and heighten their senses.
However, it is important to acknowledge what Goldmann truly emphasizes on the concept of homology that the only relation that may be emerged between literary works and reality is structural relation. In other words, the status of literary works still remains as pure imagination even though they are somewhat identical to what actually exists in reality. This concept is proved in the novel through a reason behind Alex and his friends’ choice in wearing eccentric and bizarre clothes. They wear such kind of clothes as a freedom of expression and also to show the ordinary people that they have their own identity and authentic existence. Such reason is completely opposite with those of hippie community who chose to wear the flamboyant, floral pattern, and colorful outfits as a symbol of love and hope to react against nuclear expansion, racial discrimination, and Vietnam War. Therefore, it is obvious that the choice of fashion here becomes the structural relation that connects both realms. Based on this structural relation, the worldview that mediates the novel and the actual reality can be finally determined. The concept of worldview, according to Goldmann, is not only about a set of ideas about human life, but also a manifestation of the perception of the world which is developed as a result of certain social circumstance faced by the collective subjects. By corresponding to this concept and taking the subculture community in this novel as the collective subject, the writer concludes that the worldview in this youth culture case is “social nonconformity” which means the choice of living a life differently from the mainstream society and rejecting the long established social rules and norms. Alex and the other young characters has bravely performed this social nonconformity worldview by involving themselves into drugs abuse which is supposed to be a negative habit and despised by the common people. They also have guts to show their freedom of expression by wearing bizarre clothes while the ordinary people among them only wear normal clothes.
Resistance against totalitarian state
The depiction of a resistance against the totalitarian government by a group of activists is also a significant social structure revealed in this novel. This group, which consists of the character F. Alexander and his comrades, can be treated as another form of collective subject as they are united together for possessing the same vision and goal, which is to bring a downfall towards the authoritarian state in order to create a country which gives more individual liberty for its people. Stuffs like spreading pamphlets in which the “death on government” written on them and the creation of subversive literature are some examples of human facts shown in this novel that shapes this collective consciousness. There is also an existence of homology between the resistance held by activists in the novel and those in the New Left movement which emerged during the counterculture era around 1950s-1960s. The structural relation that connects these two realms is the method of doing such resistance. While the characters in this novel prefers underground activity by committing shady things like spreading provocative pamphlets or sacrificing a certain individual to serve their purpose, the real New Left activists turned out to be more humane and compassionate when executing their action. They prefer non-violence resistance by doing march and symbolic protest in public places to express their resentment towards the state. Based on the structural relation above, the writer tries to draw a worldview that mediates the depiction of resistance in this novel and the one in the counterculture movement. It is none other than the pursuit of social welfare with the strong emphasis on the freedom of individuals. Such worldview is implicitly proposed through the way F. Alexander and his comrades frequently voice his desire for civil liberty in the novel and the way the New Left activists express the similar idea when they did resistance in 1950s-1960s.
The depiction of police brutality when dealing with the juvenile crimes is also another form of social structure conveyed in this novel. The way the police uses physical torture as a kind of punishment towards the main protagonist and the other young criminals is somehow related to what police did towards protesters who were involved in a series of demonstrations during the era of counterculture movement. However, it is important to be noted that the only structural relation that connects both the novel and the reality in this case is the brutality itself while the true reason behind such action turns out to be different for each realm. For the police brutality depicted in the novel, it is mainly caused by the actual youth crimes. Meanwhile in the counterculture era, the police used brutal forces to deal with the peaceful protesters who actually did not deserve to accept such treatment because what they did was for positive purposes which should not be considered as crimes. It is also their rights to express the freedom of speech.
Based on the structural relation above, the writer draws a worldview that mediates between the police brutality in A Clockwork Orange and the one in counterculture movement. It is all for the sake of maintaining social and political stability. Things like juvenile crimes and mass demonstration are believed to be able to interrupt the social order in a state because they cause a feeling of insecurity among the citizens. The fact that citizens are most likely to blame the government for such things leads to the state’s maximum effort to keep their reputation clean by commanding their police to prevent undesirable things that can affect the stability by any means necessary, including the use of violence.