The Main Themes In A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess Essay

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel that conveys many aspects of the importance of free will in a society ruled by totalitarian government. This novel shows the significant role of choice in shaping human’s life, especially towards the main protagonist Alex. Through Alex, Anthony Burgess intends to criticize the cruelty of state who initiates the use of violence in dealing with criminals and the use of behavioral conditioning experiment to force them to be good against their own will. From the analysis of the importance of free will, it is concluded that people become authentic when they never let the external force to intervene their essence as a human. As Sartre stated, what truly defines a person as a human is their capability to make choice. For the main protagonist case, he completely ceases to be a human when his free will is removed by the effect of Ludovico Technique arranged by the state.

The non-existence of free will leads his behavior to become passive. With this passiveness, he is vulnerable to physical harm, death, and the loss of dignity. He is also unable to acknowledge what good and evil is because such passiveness makes him losing a moral compass. However, things turn the opposite when he finally regains his free will. With his ability to determine a choice on his own, he starts to experience changes in his behavior naturally. From the man who is used to be violent and morally destructive, he surprisingly becomes mature and wise in the end of the novel. He chooses to pursue a better life and acknowledges good on his own as he grows tired of violence. With this character development, the writer confirms that nothing good will come when one’s free will is violated through a behavioral intervention.

In relation to the counterculture movement, the writer concludes that the element of youth subculture, resistance against the state, and police brutality depicted in this novel reflects the social and cultural phenomenon during the counterculture era in 1950s-1960s. They are briefly summed up as follows: 1. For youth subculture case, the main protagonist’s choice of consuming hallucinogen drug and wearing eccentric fashion reflects the Hippie community in America or Teddy Boy subculture in England who were notoriously known during that time as the group of young people who enjoyed experimenting with psychedelic drugs and bizarre fashion. Such actions are inspired by their own desire to freely express their authentic identity and special existence.2. For resistance against the state case, F. Alexander’s choice of leading an underground activism against the totalitarian state also reflects the New Left’s non-violence resistance in the era of counterculture movement. Both pursue a similar dream, which is the establishment of the freedom of individual rights.3. For police brutality case, the depiction of polices when physically torturing young criminals who are not given a freedom to protect themselves in this novel somehow reflects the police brutality which occurred during the counterculture movement, especially when they tried to stop people who were involved in anti-war and anti-nuclear protest by using violence.

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel which has various themes such as free will, youth violence, totalitarian state, subculture impact, etc. Therefore, the writer strongly suggests that in the future, there will be more further researches of this work, whether to continue the study of free will as the writer does or to explore another theme as mentioned above. The writer also realizes that this research is still far from perfection, thus the writer is ready to accept several feedbacks from the readers.

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