Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Violence

By Anthony Burgess

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Violence and instances of criminality are ubiquitous in A Clockwork Orange. In just a few chapters, Alex and his entourage have performed every trick in the criminal's book: doing drugs, mugging, robbing, gang fighting, grand theft auto, reckless driving, vandalism, arson, rape, and murder.

What is more, there's also plenty of discussion of probation officers, juvenile delinquents, prison life, police brutality, and even a forced suicide.

Questions About Violence

  1. Of all the acts of violence Alex and his gang perpetrate on their victims, which is/are the worst? What criteria do you use to assess this, the amount of perceived pain (whether it results in death or not), or something else?
  2. What role does violence or criminality play in this novel? Could the book have done without all that brutality?
  3. Alex commits crimes for the sheer joy of it. Do you think Dim and Georgie operate similarly? What motivates Dim to act violently? What motivates Georgie? Are either of them any different from Alex?
  4. How do you suppose the "modern youth" have become so violent? Is it due to lack of parenting, authority, sense of morality, or something else?

Chew on This

Alex commits crimes for the sheer joy of it; Dim is too dim to be thoughtful about his motivations; and Georgie commits crimes for monetary gain. Thus, Alex and Georgie are your typical criminals, while Dim is a mere victim of his circumstances.

In his vivid descriptions of brutality in the work, Burgess uses violence not only to contrast the forces of good and evil, but also to cause readers to look within themselves at their own capacities for nastiness. Thus, the depictions of violence are indispensable to A Clockwork Orange.

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