A Clockwork Orange Essay: Existentialist Analysis

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Existentialist Analysis of Burgess' A Clockwork Orange

Freedom and liberalism are catchwords that appear frequently in both philosophical and political rhetoric. A free man is able to choose his actions and his value system, to express his views and to develop his most authentic character. What this kind of idealistic liberalism seems to forget, however, is that liberty does not mean a better society, better life or humanistic values such as equality and justice. In his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), Anthony Burgess portrays an ultimately free individual and shows how a society cannot cope with the freedom which it in rhetoric so eagerly seeks to promote.

Existentialism as a mid-20th century philosophical trend introduced
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In his environment Alex does not represent a stereotype of Modern Youth. Unlike his droogs he has significant intellectual and artistic potential. He is smart and calculating and indulges himself with vivid poetic visions through classical music, the height of which is represented by Ludwig van Beethoven. He is an artistic self confined in an environment that severs him from self-expression and self-definition. His artforms and mediums of expression become vandalism, rape, and ultra-violence. In his unrestricted state Alex is truly a-lex, outside the law.

The society of A Clockwork Orange is constructed upon struggles for power. Crime is a part of the everyday. Violent street gangs seek power through anarchism, direct authority is represented by a network of corrupt police, and on the highest social level a struggle for political and administrative power is fought. Alex reflects: "Power, power, everybody like wants power." As a microcosm of the social mentality, he seems to fit the notion of being a product of his environment.

Alex's world is characterized by class collectivism and dullness. For him the middle class remains behind closed doors enjoying the commodities of televised entertainment, while the working spend most of their time at work or asleep. Demarcated from the society by its own language, nadsat, the violent Modern Youth lives in a different world. Thus no accepted form of social identification exists for Alex, and life in
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