Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Morality and Ethics

By Anthony Burgess

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Morality and Ethics

The central message of A Clockwork Orange seems to be that the freedom to choose (good or evil) is fundamental to mankind. Indeed, this element of moral choice distinguishes humans from machines and robots.

However, is moral depravity better than forced morality? Are evil and suffering (freely chosen and caused by people) better than a docile, peaceful state (engineered by the Government)? People like Alex, the prison chaplain, and F. Alexander seem to think so. The State is more interested in stability than any debate on morality and ethics, however.

Questions About Morality and Ethics

  1. Which is a more moral person: a kid who consistently but freely chooses to do evil deeds over good ones or a reformed criminal who has been brainwashed to choose only good deeds? Be ready to explain your reasoning and assumptions.
  2. Is moral depravity better than forced morality? Where does amorality figure in all of this? Which side of the debate does each major character in this book take?
  3. Do you believe in the adage, "what goes around comes around"? Does Alex get what is due to him?
  4. Do you consider F. Alexander to be a morally upright man? How about the Minister of the Interior – are his actions morally justified?

Chew on This

Behavior that is not chosen, but dictated or forced, is neither moral nor immoral, because the freedom to choose one's actions underlies the very concept of "morality."

Alex is the ultimate poster-child for amorality, since he delights in violence for violence's sake.

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