Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Society and Class

Society and Class

ALEX: One thing I could never stand is to see a filthy, dirty old drunkie, howling away at the filthy songs of his fathers and going blerp, blerp in between as it might be a filthy old orchestra in his stinking rotten guts. I could never stand to see anyone like that, whatever his age might be, but more especially when he was real old like this one was.

Alex makes his violent act into a statement on society of sorts. People shouldn't be loud and obnoxious or else they get beat up! We wonder if Alex would change his tune (pun intended) if this guy were humming Beethoven.

TRAMP: I don't want to live anyway, not in a stinking world like this. […] It's a stinking world because there's no law and order any more. It's a stinking world because it lets the young get onto the old like you done. It's no world for an old man any longer. What sort of a world is it at all? Men on the moon and men spinning around the earth and there's not no attention paid to earthly law and order no more.

Society has gone to heck in a handbasket according to the tramp, before he gets beat up. He seems to think that young thugs have taken over, and that it's no country for old men. Is this attitude common in every generation?

ALEX: It's wrong because it's like against like society. It's wrong because everybody has the right to live and be happy without being tolchocked and knifed.

The Ludovico procedure is intended to make Alex non-violent. It's difficult to determine whether it really changes him. Here, he seems to realize that he has to be a part of society, not outside it. But is he just saying that so they'll think he is cured, or does he believe it?

THE MINISTER: Our party promised to restore law and order and to make the streets safe for the ordinary peace-loving citizen. This pledge is now about to become a reality. Ladies and Gentlemen, today is an historic moment. The problem of criminal violence is soon to be a thing of the past. But enough of words. Actions speak louder than. Action now. Observe all.

There is a political aspect to the Ludovico technique. The Minister of the Interior wants the government to live up to its promises. If the technique is successful—which it is—does the intention behind it matter?

FRANK: Then, by God, you have been sent here by providence. Tortured in prison, then thrown out to be tortured by the police. My heart goes out to you, poor, poor boy. Oh, you are not the first to come here in distress. The Police are fond of bringing their victims to the outskirts of this village. But it is providential that you, who are also another kind of victim, should come here. Oh, but you're cold and shivering. Julian, draw a bath for this young man.

The writer whom Alex beats at the beginning turns out to be a subversive author against the government. He is also a hypocrite, having no compulsion against turning on Alex when he realizes he is the thug who raped his wife. Because of this character, it is difficult to tell which side the movie is on—the side of the government manipulating society, or of those trying to subvert it.

PEE: You were in the papers again, son. It said, they had done great wrong to you. It said, how the Government drove you to try and do yourself in...and when you think about it, son...maybe it was our fault, too, in a way. Your home's your home, when all's said and done, son.

Alex may have been brainwashed, but the government succeeds in manipulating society and Alex's parents, too. They believe they are responsible for his behavior. What is Alex's parents, and society's, responsibility for violent offenders?