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A Clockwork Orange Essay

2636 words - 11 pages

The new American edition of the novel A Clockwork Orange features a final chapter that was omitted from the original American edition against the author's preference. Anthony Burgess, the novel's author, provided for the new edition an introduction to explain not only the significance of the twenty-first chapter but also the purpose of the entire book which was the fundamental importance of moral choice. Burgess states that the twenty-first chapter was intended to show the maturation or moral progress of the youthful protagonist, Alex. The omission of the twenty-first chapter resulted, according to Burgess, in the reduction of the novel from fiction to fable, something untrue to life. Human beings change, and Burgess wanted his protagonist to mature rather than stay in adolescent aggression. The twenty-first chapter shows this change, and the chapter is important because it includes Alex's mature assessment of his own adolescence and shows the importance of maturity to moral freedom which is Burgess's main point. Burgess has presented his definition of moral freedom in both his introduction and in his novel. This definition will be discussed and it will be shown how Burgess relates it to three kinds of clockwork oranges.Burgess's definition of moral freedom as the ability to perform both good and evil is presented by implication in his discussion of the first kind of clockwork orange. In his introduction, he states that 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 (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State." Burgess goes on to say, "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." This hypothetical type of clockwork orange nowhere appears in the novel because Alex is neither totally good nor totally evil but a mixture of both. This remains true even after Alex's conditioning by the Government. It is true that the Government tries to make Alex totally good through conditioning; however, since it is a coerced goodness, against Alex's will, total goodness is not achieved.Burgess is correct when he states that evil has to exist along with good in order that moral choice may operate. He is not correct, however, when he states that it is inhuman to be totally good. He does not consider the possibility of totally good human beings that consistently choose good, either morally or amorally. One can have a perfectly good environment such as Heaven or the Garden of Eden where evil is only a possibility awaiting actualization by the free choice of totally good beings such as Lucifer the archangel or Adam the first man. Good beings may cause evil, and moral freedom only requires that one knows a possibility is evil before...

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