A Clockwork Orange: Free will

In A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess, the ability to freely choose is technologically conditioned by the authorities, therefore, it becomes a behavior instead of a choice, or through one’s free will.

Dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess. © 2017 Angel Vang

After being caught for a crime, Alex DeLarge is thrown in prison but then volunteers himself for the Ludovico’s treatment in hopes to return to the world faster. However, this experiment is not what Alex expected.

In this treatment, he is strapped to a chair and forcibly shown a set of gruesome films with his eyes pried open by a machine.

The authorities believe that to change Alex’s behavior they should condition him to dislike violence by showing him these brutal films until he gets better. A question was asked in my class in relation to this idea. Where, if anywhere, do you recognize actual efforts by those with legal authority and institutional power to force people to think, feel, believe, act, interact, communicate, and/or behave in particular ‘desired’ ways, overriding their ability to ‘freely’ ‘consent’ and ‘choose’?

I related this dystopian novel with the church because it loves to promote ‘good’ and ‘love.’ The institution makes heaven a promise for those who are good, creating this moral of behavior versus choice. However, there is a big difference between being good on one’s own account and being good because an institution said you should because it is ‘desirable’ for God.

Being good should be through one’s own will. Am I really ‘good’ then if it becomes something forced upon me? Whether we are talking about religious people or not, one should not just be ‘good’ for a selfish reason like getting into heaven while outside of the church, they are horrible people. According to the church, to be ‘good’ is to follow these do’s and don’ts from the bible that will guarantee your ticket to heaven.

I think being ‘good’ just to be able to get to heaven can sometimes seem a bit selfish. A lot of people tell me, “You should be ‘good’ so you can get to heaven”, but how about being good just to be good? Love just to love? I just want to be a good person just for the good of goodness, not because I want to get to heaven. If that is the only motivation, then are you really ‘good’? Are you only good because there’s something in it for you?

As indicated in the title, which I absolutely love, someone who is conditioned to be ‘good’ is a clockwork orange, just like Alex himself. A clockwork orange is like a windup toy. Alex became one when he volunteered for the Ludovico technique and became technically conditioned to be ‘good’.

In result, in the end of the novel, Alex returns as a criminal or gang leader because he could not remain ‘good’ because he is a clockwork orange. Behavior does not last as long as the choice to be good because like a clockwork orange, it will unwind itself sooner or later.


***This post is from a journal entry for a class***


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