The novel A Clockwise Orange by Anthony Burgess raises questions on the manner in which a typical so-called free society in modern times implements law and order mechanism and deals with habitual criminal lawbreakers…
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The overwhelming question that would be examined is whether society can curb violence by implementing laws that by themselves are violent. The question, whether violence by criminals can be addressed by violent means, is addressed in the novel through its theme. Society is expected to function properly only when people can carry out their day-to-day activities without being threatened of violent acts like stealing, sexual harassment, etc. by unsocial elements. When unsocial acts from the likes of eve-teasing and pick pocketing crosses their limits to rape and murder, like carried out by Alex in the novel under study, then such characters are too dangerous to be left open in the society. Imprisonment is one way through which present day judicial system deals with such criminal offenders (Collins and Cattermole). Though there is no authoritative definition of anti-social acts by habitually violent criminal offenders, anti-social act is any action which is ‘public’ in character, generally criminal, and at a low level of seriousness constitutes activities often termed in popular parlance as ‘street offences.’ In US, crimes are classified into felonies and misdemeanors. While misdemeanors are usually lighter form of offenses dealt with corrective measures like fine or imprisonment up to 1 year, serious crimes like rape and murder comes under the category of felony. They are often punishable by death penalty or imprisonment more than one year (Collins and Cattermole 47). Cullen, Wright, and Blevins observes, “crime is a complex phenomenon that exists on varied levels of analysis, manifests itself in various ways across the life course, is linked to forces inside and outside the individual, and is enmeshed in contexts extending from situational dynamics to socio-political, historical eras.” (Cullen, Wright, and Blevins 1) Alex, the protagonist in the 1962 novel A Clockwise Orange, and his pals are adolescent ‘style-boys’ who are used to ‘smashing faces and windows’ and night orgies. They communicate in slangs and external environment generates a vicious circle from where it is difficult to come out from the crime (Burgess). Alex's pals (‘droogs" in the novel's Anglo-Russian slang) are Dim, a slow-witted, systematic bruiser and Georgie, a motivated No 2 in command, and Pete, all of whom have predilection for ultra-violence. The author portrays Alex as a personality with an instinct to do antisocial activities and a hardcore juvenile wrongdoer; he is nevertheless sharp and intelligent with elegant taste of music. Alex is especially fan of Beethoven, or ‘Lovely Ludwig Van.’ (Burgess 63) According to Collins and Cattermole, antisocial behavior varies from person to person. ‘Silo’ remedy focused on just one part is deemed to be a failure. Enforcement, prevention, and rehabilitation should be pursued thoughtfully in any modern free society (Collins and Cattermole 47-48). During his imprisonment, Alex is subject to behavior modification; Ludovico Technique is experimented (Burgess 82). Under this technique, Alex is injected with a medicine that makes him sick and compelled to view violent scenes finally pushing him to strong bouts of nausea at the mere thought of violence (Burgess 96). The success of the application of Ludovico technique in Alex is exhibited to a cluster of important people, who observe as Alex falls down before a bully and degrade him before an insufficiently attired young woman. Though the prison officials blame the government of depriving Alex of free will, the state bureaucrats present are delighted with the outcome and Alex is discharged from the prison (Burgess 119). Ability to
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