Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Manipulation

By Anthony Burgess

Manipulation

Part 1, Chapter 4

I had to have a smeck, though, thinking of what I'd viddied once in one of these like articles on Modern Youth, about how Modern Youth would be better off if A Lively Appreciation Of The Arts could be like encouraged. Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieted Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles. Music always sort of sharpened me up, O my brothers, and made me feel like old Bog himself, ready to make with the old donner and blitzen and have vecks and ptitsas creeching away in my ha ha power. (1.4.24)

Interesting thought: education and appreciation for the arts and music can manipulate shy little rascals into becoming high-achieving kids. Alex bastardizes this idea, though, because he admittedly uses the power of music to be even more violent towards others.

Part 2, Chapter 2

"Common criminals like this unsavoury crowd"--(that meant me, brothers, as well as the others, who were real prestoopnicks and treacherous with it)--"can best be dealt with on a purely curative basis. Kill the criminal reflex, that's all. Full implementation in a year's time. Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that. They enjoy their so-called punishment. They start murdering each other." (2.2.17)

This "curative" approach sounds great in theory, but doesn't it strike you as a bit inhumane? But then, all sorts of manipulation can sound morally questionable. And then you get stuck with the question: how can one reform criminals at all?

Part 2, Chapter 5

"You had a very positive response. Tomorrow, of course, there'll be two sessions, morning and afternoon, and I should imagine that you'll be feeling a bit limp at the end of the day. But we have to be hard on you, you have to be cured." (2.5.5)

The behavior modification sessions are tough on Alex. They are supposed to cure him of his tendencies to do evil, though, so of course the Government thinks it's a fair trade-off. He's already sinned, so now it should be a prize for him to be reformed.

"You felt ill this afternoon," he said, "because you're getting better. When we're healthy we respond to the presence of the hateful with fear and nausea. You're becoming healthy, that's all. You'll be healthier still this time tomorrow." (2.5.13)

Ironically, by getting sick, Alex becomes healthier once the manipulation treatment is underway.

Part 2, Chapter 6
Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom

"Right," said Dr. Brodsky. "It's association, the oldest educational method in the world. And what really causes you to feel ill." (2.6.12)

So, it is finally revealed to us in plain English that the manipulation/behavior modification treatment Alex is undergoing employs the oldest educational method in the world – associative learning.

Part 2, Chapter 7

Now I knew that I'd have to be real skorry and get my cut-throat britva out before this horrible killing sickness whooshed up and turned the like joy of battle into feeling I was going to snuff it. But, O brothers, as my rooker reached for the britva in my inside carman I got this like picture in my mind's glazzy of this insulting chelloveck howling for mercy with the red red krovvy all streaming out of his rot, and hot after this picture the sickness and dryness and pains were rushing to overtake, and I viddied that I'd have to change the way I felt about this rotten veck very very skorry indeed… (2.7.6)

This is the first sign that Ludovico's Technique works. Alex's behavior has definitely changed.

Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom

Dr. Brodsky said to the audience: "Our subject is, you see, impelled towards the good by, paradoxically, being impelled towards evil. The intention to act violently is accompanied by strong feelings of physical distress. To counter these the subject has to switch to a diametrically opposed attitude. Any questions?" (2.7.12)

Here, Dr. Brodsky is explaining the mechanism for behavior modification/manipulation. But how in the world does Dr. Brodsky convince himself that it is natural for humans to choose to be nonviolent in order to avoid getting sick by thinking violent thoughts? How is that human? How can it be natural if your acts are dictated by fear or avoidance behavior?