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Comparative Essay: 1984 and A Clockwork Orange

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Introduction

Both ?Nineteen Eighty Four ? and ?A Clockwork Orange? are novels set in a future dystopian society where government regime is an ever present feature which inevitably results in its people losing their freedom and individuality. In 1984, the citizens of Oceania are forbidden to speak out against the Party, for fear of violent retaliation from the Thought Police. There are no laws, which allow the Party to change any policy whenever it desires, so they can easily control the people. In A Clockwork Orange, the police are brutal violent men, and crimes like robbery and rape are often overlooked by them. The police are extremely corrupt, and break many laws themselves; and when criminals are caught, the police will beat them harshly. When Alex is betrayed by his gang members, the police beat and mistreat Alex for hours. Even his parole officer is offered a chance to attack Alex: 'If you'd like to give him a bash in the chops, sir... don't mind us. We'll hold him down. He must be another great disappointment for you." The Government regime is a prime catalyst in the two novels in terms of the plot development. Although the two parties concerned are conflicting in their approach to the way in which the country is managed in the futuristic setting, the hostile repercussions of their ideologies are equally echoed throughout each of the novels. ...read more.

Middle

Through the Ludovico Technique, Alex totally loses the ability to freely choose his actions, however horrible those actions might be. The doctors say at one point during Alex?s treatment that ?You?re not cured yet. There?s still a lot to be done. Only when your body reacts promptly and violently to violence, as to a snake, without further help from us, without medication?? (Burgess 116). Alex is ?cured,? he is not taught right and wrong. The term ?cured? in this context seems to be interchangeable with the word ?determined.? Alex is without possession of free choice at this point, and thus he is determined. Burgess gained much of his inspiration for writing A Clockwork Orange from his excursion to Leningrad in 1961. There, he observed the state-regulated, repressive atmosphere of a nation that threatened to spread its dominion over the world. During his visit, Burgess witnessed the remorseless brutality executed by thuggish Russian teenagers known as the stilyagi. The resemblances between the Russian gang culture and the ?droogs? depicted in A Clockwork Orange are startlingly uncanny and it is highly probable that Burgess? inspiration for the gang originated from this. The theme of restricted freedom is also reflected in the Russian society. However it was not Burgess? intention to satirically mock the Russian communist ideology, but instead to estimate how communist societal views would affect the behaviourism of the British society. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Newspeak equivalent presented in A Clockwork Orange is named ?nadsat, and serves to fulfil several factors within the novel. Primarily it works as a literary device that seeks to temporarily alienate the reader from the world of the protagonist-narrator. Without constantly de-coding the language and translating it to give the respective English meaning, it is difficult to appreciate the Nadsat language. Whilst much of the wording separates the reader from a dystopian world, there are a selection of words that- with slight contemplation- are easily understood which in a sense reflects the fact that although Burgess? society is a work of fiction, it is not outright unrealistic, which instils fear into the reader. Second, since nadsat draws its inspirations from Russian and Cockney English, it tells us about the author's political message. In Burgess's time, Russian was a seriously repressed totalitarian state, and Alex's fictional British world is not much different. Third, as we discuss in the "Characterization" section, an individual's use of language tells us a good deal about his place, function, and role in society. The origins of nadsat betray the political message Burgess intends to convey through its usage ? that Alex's Britain is not that far off from being a totalitarian state like Russia. Nadsat is indispensable to A Clockwork Orange as a literary device. Without it, readers would never have the opportunity to develop the requisite rapport with the protagonist to stick with him through the end. ...read more.

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