A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

1473 Words Jul 20th, 2016 6 Pages
Linking the fundamental conflict between individual identity and societal identity with musical imagery in the story “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, creates a lens through which one can recognize the tendency that violence can destroy an individual’s identity. The main protagonist and narrator of the story is Alex and although he associates violence with his own individual identity and sense of self, he consistently reveals the impossibility of remaining an individual in the face of group-oriented violence. Images drawn from the realm of music parallel the destruction of Alex’s identity, either through conformity to a group’s style of violence or through failure to embrace the homogeneity of group actions associate with violence. As Alex’s narrative progresses, the musical imagery follows the decline and re-emergence of his personal identity as a function of his involvement in violence. Musical references underscore the power of violence to negate individual identity in favor of group identity, thereby illuminating the destructive effect that violence as on the human personality.
The musical image of the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, illustrates the manner in which violence within the story progresses from the identity of one individual to embracing the identity of a whole group. As Alex puts on the last movement of Beethoven’s symphony, he “feels the old tigers leap in [him]” (46), 1 and he forces himself on the two young girls he has brought…
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