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Violence in A Clockwork Orange

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Introduction

Violence in A Clockwork Orange Remind yourself of Chapter 2 of Part II of A Clockwork Orange. (i) How does Burgess present violence in this chapter? This chapter is unusually short; it is probably the shortest in the book. And yet the violence that takes place in the chapter is extremely graphic. It seems more intense because it is concentrated in two ways: firstly, it is limited by the more obvious confines of the prison cell walls; but secondly, it is confined in a metaphorical sense within the "walls" of a very small chapter. Therefore one would expect the chapter to be weak. But instead Burgess manages to cram every shocking image into a small space, concentrating the violence into one large, disturbing image. Scenes are described such as "the Wall fisted his rot" and "a horrorshow kick on the gulliver". These are nothing special when compared to some of the actions of the previous chapters. But what makes the entire scene stick in the reader's mind is how complete the description of it is. Added to the images are the descriptions of sounds, such as "oh oh oh " and "the new plenny creeched". Furthermore is the vivid and widespread use of the colour red: there are the usual copious amounts of "dripping red krovvy"; and the entire scene is cast in an ominous blood-like ...read more.

Middle

During the first half he is a brutal and violent thug, and despite him being the protagonist, the reader has little sympathy. Yet when he is the victim, particularly of the obsessed author of A Clockwork Orange, one cannot help but feel something. The patron of the library is also a good example. When he is the victim early on in the book, he is harmless and weak, and the attack on him is brutal. It signifies the downfall of literature and its reduced status in Alex's world. Yet when Alex is the victim of this same man and his cronies, it is a symbol of his downfall in the real world. The violence is still brutal, and one still feels pity for Alex. But in both cases it means something. And again, it also raises the question of punishment. Should a victim seek revenge on his attacker if he ever has the chance? There is only one group in the book that does not resort to any kind of brutality, individual, social or psychological. This group is the Church, represented by the "charlie". Instead, the Church issues various philosophical arguments on the importance of choice. It is almost as if Burgess intends the Church to be the mediator in the battle between the individual and the government. ...read more.

Conclusion

If one were to simply read the first half of the novel and leave the rest, one would certainly wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that the novel glorifies violence, for no apparent purpose. Alex, as the protagonist and the narrator, depicts the violence in his way - he enjoys it, so he tries to make the reader see it that way, too. But if one has read the whole novel one can make a more balanced evaluation. Alex as the victim is very different from the other Alex. He is still the protagonist; he is still the narrator. Yet all glorification is gone: no choreography, no music. The violent is entirely repulsive - to us as it is to Alex. We feel for Alex - we can imagine what he goes through. And this is what is important. While Burgess starts out glorifying violence, he does it with a distinct end in mind: he wants us to be even more repulsed during the second half of the novel, so that he can get his message across. In reality, the second half completely negates the effect of the first half. Therefore, although I agree with the assertion that Burgess glorifies violence in the book, I do not believe that he glorifies it in his mind, or that he intends to glorify it in ours. 1 ...read more.

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