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Moral Issues in A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

In A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Alex, the main character, loses his ability to enjoy classical music due to the experimental treatment, called Ludovico’s Technique, tested on him in prison. Any thought of violence, including classical music, which he associated with violence, made Alex dreadfully sick. The treatment that leads to Alex’s inability to enjoy the music of Beethoven is not justified for several reasons.

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First, the treatment does not change the personality of the patient. It just suppresses the violence and brutality of the person. The therapy works to create an association of violence with the sick state of the body. Thus, every time Alex thinks about the violence, he feels horribly sick. The fact that Alex thinks about the violence, even though it is now associated with being sick, makes the treatment not justified. Proper treatment should include a radical change in the way a person thinks and behaves. Second, classical music is one of the few things that were not a criminal act and Alex could enjoy. Depriving him of the opportunity to enjoy the music only made him angrier and increased his hatred towards the world.

Alex became a clockwork orange after being treated by Ludovico’s Technique. The meaning of being a clockwork orange is to be purely evil or purely good, which is an inhuman characteristic (Burgess 4). The state of Alex before treatment was his moral choice, which was naturally done. However, Alex’s behavior after the treatment was a result of artificial interference. His mind was artificially turned back from violence, which naturally exists along with human’s good qualities. Thus, the treatment made Alex ignore his dark side and make only good choices and actions, which is the exact definition of being a clockwork orange.

Reference

Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. 1962.

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