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A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

1323 words - 5 pages

Imagine having stolen, raped, and even murdered all at the age of 15. The new canon of dark literature and controversy has finally hit the stage. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess written in 1962 could only be described in the old cockney expression “queer as a clockwork orange”. Meaning it is bizarre internally, but appears natural on the surface. The story begins with the protagonist and narrator Alex a 15-year-old boy, who sets the bar for the most cold-blooded and callous characters of literature. His droogs, Pete, Georgie and Dim, who was really dim, would spend their time in the Korova Milkbar drinking drug laced milk. After a good drink of the milk-plus mesto, Alex and his three droogs were ready to commit the good old ultra-violence. In this dystopian world, violence is glorified throughout the younger generation and terrorize innocent people. The main concept of this book is whether goodness should be chosen or forced upon. A Clockwork Orange may seem like a disturbing shocker, but it is considered a classic for a reason. Its controversial subject may overlook the true beauty of its grand literature and philosophical questions. What makes it truly great is raising the ethical question of human morality and essence, the experimental use of a fictional language, and it’s musical theme.
The type of language a book uses is essential, and Burgess’ take on language is unequivocally unique and artistic. In the introduction of the book, Anthony Burgess states “Nasdat, a Russianfied version of English was meant to muffle the raw response...It turns the book into a linguistic adventure. People preferred the film because they are scared, rightly, of language.” (3) Though many people are afraid of language and Nadsat may seem foreign and daunting, it is quintessential to the motif of a “muffled violence”. Slang terms such as “Krovvy” (Blood), “Nohza” (Knife), “Pol” (Rape) and “Vred” (To harm), formulate an innocence to cover the reality of ultra-violence. The strategy is to confuse the reader about what is actually being said, and challenges them to divulge the true meaning. As described in a journal The Use and Effects of Fictional Argot:
Because these are new words in which the reader has no existing emotional investment, the reader doesn't have the same negative association with the action – leaving Burgess free to have Alex do what he wants without the reader judging him so harshly. By disconnecting the emotive response to the words from their meaning, nadsat creates a cushioning layer between the acts of violence and how the reader understands these acts (Nixon 5).

With no existing emotional investment, the reader then feels sympathy for Alex when he is being attacked by others. Although Alex is a ruthless character, many can’t help but feel pity for him when his friends turn against him. Another reason for Burgess’ creation of Nadsat is to portray Alex as a young boy who hasn’t yet grown into a man, because of his use of slang. Nadsat...

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