Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book & Theme, But 21st Chapter Contradicts the Rest, 13 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Clockwork Orange (Norton Paperback Fiction) (Paperback)
This book is as popular as The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey and The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson. There is something about the Dark Side that attracts and tempts us with promises of escape from the boredom in everyday life. Burgess, in his introduction to ACO, attributes this attraction to "Original Sin" and says he enjoyed ripping and raping by proxy through his protagonist, Alex. But he still had a moral point: "If one can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or... the Almighty State." He continues: "It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate."
My opinion is that the first 20 chapters powerfully expound this moral point. Alex is used by Burgess to mock those who think that evil is not freely chosen but the result of a bad environment, a bad government or the devil. However, I think that the somewhat abrupt 21st chapter contradicts this moral point by having Alex associate his youth with a wind-up toy (the opposite of moral freedom).
Apart from what I perceive to be a contradictory 21st chapter, the book is excellent for its creative language and emotional presentation on the moral issue of whether conditioning, not just incarceration, can remove moral freedom. Put yourself in the victim's shoes. Would you want Alex to lose his moral freedom to torture, rape or even murder if it meant a safer society, a safer YOU? If you answer "yes," then you are in effect saying that you want your own moral freedom to choose evil removed. This raises the question of why evil (or our moral perception of evil) exists in the first place. A lot to think about here.
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