Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Morality and Ethics

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Morality and Ethics

ALEX: We were all feeling a bit shagged and fagged and fashed, it having been an evening of some small energy expenditure, O my brothers, so we got rid of the auto and stopped off at the Korova for a nightcap.

Alex's morality is definitely skewed. After beating up homeless people and raping a woman, how does he feel? Tired!

CHAPLAIN: Choice! The boy has no real choice, has he? Self-interest, the fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.

The Minister believes that morality comes from within. But aren't laws and religion just ways of persuading people to make the "right" choice? If so, the Ludovico technique isn't any different.

THE MINISTER: Padre, these are subtleties. We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics; we are concerned only with cutting down crime. And with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons...

In A Clockwork Orange, every decision a government makes is based on potential political gains. The morality, or lack of, is a side effect.

JOE: No, but there's much more than that, though. I mean I've got you two to think of. You've been like a father and mother to me. Well, it wouldn't be fair now, or right, for me to go off and leave you two to the tender mercies of this young monster who's been like no real son at all. Look, he's weeping now. That's all his craft and artfulness. Let him go out and find a room somewhere else. Let him learn the errors of his way, and that a bad boy like he's been doesn't deserve such a good mum and dad as he's had.

Joe is the good son that Alex's parents never had. Even though Joe pays rent, which Alex never did, he is grateful for being in his parents' house, and he seems to treat them well out of the goodness of his heart.

JOE: You've made others suffer. It's only right that you should suffer proper. You know I've been told everything you've done, sitting here at night round the family table, and pretty shocking it was to listen to. It made me real sick, a lot of it did. Now look what you've gone and done to your mother.

Joe, the boarder, has only one scene, but he's the voice of people who believe that Alex must be punished for his crimes. Which side are you on?

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