Anthony Burgess

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Anthony Burgess’s View That A Lack Of Free Choice Is Spiritually Condemning As Evident In A Clockwork Orange Essay, Research Paper In all of my reading, I have come to the conclusion that Anthony Burgess is one of the greatest literary genius s of the twentieth century. His masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange, is unrivaled in obvious depth, insight, and innovation. The novel is a work of such quality, such perfection, that it seems to be genuinely written by a literary demigod. The novel’s main theme deals with free choice and spiritual freedom. More specifically, “[The ethical promise that 'A man who cannot choose ceases to be man'] can be taken as both the explicit and implicit themes of the novel” (Morgan 104). Anthony Burgess expresses his view that no matter how

“good” one’s actions are, unless one has free moral choice, he is spiritually damned. The novel revolves around one criminally minded teen, Alex, whose world consists of rape, murder, and ruthless violence. Alex is eventually setup by his “droogs” (friends) and is arrested and jailed. After some time in jail, Alex is placed in a new rehabilitating program that uses electro-shock therapy, new medicines, and exposure to violent film. The program breaks all that Alex holds dear and builds him up with a new artificial conscience. This part of the novel “presents the reader with a new, reformed Alex, an Alex without free will or freedom of choice, an Alex who has become a victim” Burgess considers this lack of freedom to be spiritually murderous and terribly wrong.

Burgess knows that it is better to choose to be evil, than to be forced to be good. Alex is tormented by his new state of oppression. He is incapable of making any choice; he must always do what is good. Alex is then taken under the wing of a writer who is fighting the oppressive government. The writer greatly publicizes the oppressive rehabilitation the state put Alex through. But Alex is still tormented by his lack of choice, so tormented, that he even attempts suicide. While Alex is in the hospital following his suicide attempt, the tragedy of his oppression is highly publicized, in an attempt to stop public criticism, the state “fixed Alex.” He once again has freedom of choice. Through these series of events, Burgess shows another conviction of his. “The ’spiritual

death’ can also be seen in the wider context of a political or philosophical sterility which afflicts whole countries given over to the totalitarian view of life”. Burgess believes that totalitarian governments take away one’s individual choice and therefore suffocate his soul. The state in A Clockwork Orange is a general parallel to any overly oppressive or totalitarian government. Alex is a representative of the common man. “Burgess’ attack on behaviorists and on totalitarian states is obvious”. By showing what torment Alex went through when rehabilitated by the state, Burgess shows his strong sentiment against governments taking away the choice of individuals, and therefore condemning the individual’s spirit. Burgess’s strong convictions on the subject of

individual moral freedom seems odd and even backwards to some. But it is incredibly right when one grasps its full meaning. “Burgess replies…No matter how awful Alex’s actions become, he should be allowed to choose them”. To be forced to do good is truly wrong. If one is forced to do right, and he does what is right, it is not out of any ethical or moral conviction. When one does what he is forced to, he is merely a programmed pawn of the state. He becomes sub-human, he is merely a robotic existence. Butwhen one has choice, he is an individual. When one who is free, chooses good, it is out of a moral conscience and good intent. He chooses to do good. The good done through free choice isinfinitely better than the forced good of one who is oppressed into morality. Burgess,