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A Clockwork Orange Marxist Analysis Draft 3.docx

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Nishchay Kaushal
A Clockwork Orange Marxist Analysis
The bones to the body, the bricks to the house and the trunk to the tree, all possess
one common entity - a sustainable foundation. Society is an entity comparable to the
body, house, or tree, where the people, infrastructure, and government resemble the entire
base. This base shapes and drives a society to success, or can trigger ultimate chaos upon
the loss of power and control from the general population. A Clockwork Orange, by
Anthony Burgess, illustrates these dominating ideologies where youth dictate social order
and the government leaves its citizens powerless. This concept of rebellious youth,
alongside corrupt social institutions and an oppressive government demonstrate the power
struggles embedded in society.
Often times a healthy society is defined by the goals and objectives specified by
the adult community, as it is this age group that possesses all the power. The society
found in A Clockwork Orange shows a contrasting way of living with youth as the
dominating force. When Alex describes his crime, “So we had her down on the floor and
a rip of her platties for fun and a gentle bit of the boot to stop her moaning,” (Burgess,
10), this demonstrates the power struggle between youth and adults, as these teenagers
commit crimes on a daily basis. The young droogs, otherwise known as criminals, are
able to commit a vicious act of assault on an elderly woman with no disciplinary
repercussions from the adult populace. In addition, the power struggles are depicted
through the adult way of life as shown by this quote, “We dont go out much, the streets
being what they are. Young hooligans and so on,” (38). Adults are afraid to experience
life outside of their homes, because they feel powerless in the presence of the droogs.
This results in increased freedom for Alex and his friends with which they wreak havoc in
this society. During nightfall the youth have complete control over all citizens as evident
by, “The day was very different from the night. The night belonged to me and my
droogs,” (33). Alex and his friends are free from all government forces that attempt to
restrict their actions, and thus act in a very violent manner against other civilians. This
autocratic behavior alongside several age gaps within society helps identify the dominant
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force. It is the youth who ultimately seize all power from the adults, which triggers a
power clash between the two age groups.
In Burgess’ novel, corrupt social institutions such as shops, hospitals and prisons
hint at flaws in societal relationships. Burgess utilizes these unethical social institutions to
depict power loss from the general citizens. In one instance, the shop owner lies to the
police in order to cover up for Alex’s crime when she says, “They’ve been in here all
night, lads. God bless them.” (11) This illustrates the power conflict between the
adolescents and regular civilians, where the youth are able to manipulate and control
these citizens simply by their presence. Additionally, when Alex says, “This time the film
jumped right away to a young devotchka who was being given the old in-out by the first
one malchick, then another, and another.“ (77) This shows the fight for power between
patients and doctors, as these physicians force their patients to watch violent films in
order to slowly and gradually strip them of their power. Furthermore, the prison system
found in this society creates a class system within the institution, when the author writes,
“kish, kosh, and koosh you little terror, The Doctor will receive his food first.” (66) These
inmates are classified by their position in society and are treated according to the amount
of power they possessed before being admitted to prison. The corrupt and immoral social
institutions depict the numerous power struggles found throughout this deteriorating
During the course of the novel, the government entrusts its citizen with limited
power, and retains all authority. The author uses ideologies of totalitarianism to convey
these power struggles rooted between the citizens and the government, when Alex says,
“On the back as well, so that going and coming I was 6655321 and not your little droog
Alex not no longer.” (57) Within the government institutions, citizens are completely
stripped of their identities, and in turn deprived of any power. The governments objective
is to limit any civilian influence, and they attempt to do so by ensuring the “State” is the
only name that is heard throughout society. Additionally, when the Governor explains,
“The Government cannot be concerned any longer with penological theories like
yourselves,” (69) it illustrates this power conflict between the citizens and the governing
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body. The government does not allow delinquents to progress further in society due to the
lack of power and control they are given. Furthermore, P.R. Deltoid, a government
representative, explains the government’s motives when he says, “But the not-self cannot
have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot
allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.” (31) In the eyes of the government,
being ‘bad’ is considered socially disruptive, thus damaging the well-being of the State.
As a result, the State seeks to deprive the individual of their choice and in turn rids them
of any power. The government utilizes its dominance and superiority over society to
instill a sense of weakness in its citizens.
All in all, this dystopian community identifies several pivotal relationships that
demonstrate the power struggles found throughout the organizations and the people.
Anthony Burgess utilizes this superstructure of human institutions and ideologies to
enhance and develop the power conflicts. Youth are able to seize all control, social
institutions emphasize class gaps, and the government offers limited power to its citizens.
The novel, A Clockwork Orange, highlights humanity at its lowest point, where the
differences in social classes determine the amount of authority each individual can
possess. It is these power conflicts that embody the characteristics and attributes of any
society. Without a trunk there is no tree, without bones there is no body, and without
societal influence, power struggles will continue to exist and govern humanities decisions.