Free Will vs Submission in A Clockwork Orange
Reformation and transformation are two completely different things. Reformation implies the subject’s change of morals, while transformation entails brainwashing and submission to a “behavioral change” of choice, where the subject loses the luxury of free will. This reprogramming of a human is the main theme in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, where the protagonist Alex is faced with a new treatment called Ludovico’s technique that boasts reformation in just a fortnight. However, this technique is not a realistic response to violent people like Alex because, rather than reforming people, it brainwashes them and transforms them into “clockwork oranges” that simply do what they were programmed to do.
Alex was programmed to only do good things. While this makes him a functional and contributing member of society, it removes any sort of free will and the ability to make a moral choice. “ ‘It works all right, don’t worry about that. This vicious young hoodlum will be transformed out of all recognition’” (Burgess 103). The Governor tells Alex he will be the first to try out Ludovico’s Technique, and says it will reform Alex into a better person. However, Alex is not willingly changing his mindset and choosing to only do good things and forgetting the violence, he is being behaviorally trained to become disgusted with the thought of it. While the authoritative figures in the novel perceive this as progress, we as readers see this as oppressive brainwashing and transformation into a subject devoid of choice.
Anthony Burgess portrays the change from a human with choice to a non-thinking piece of clockwork by slipping in phrases that encourage the reader to see the members of society as merely robotic, without consciences. “ ‘That red red krovvy will soon stop.’ Because I had not cut into the like main cables” (59). After Alex proves to his droogs that he is the true leader by fighting Georgie and Dim, he remarks...