Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Criminality

Criminality

Criminals can be scary, desperate, or just plain stupid. But there's one thing few people will admit: committing crimes can be fun. There's an adrenaline rush to pulling off a bank heist…or even just snatching a ripe apple off of your neighbor's tree. The thrill is one reason some people commit crimes, regardless of the consequences.

Alex in A Clockwork Orange falls into the category of thrill-seeker. He rapes, he pillages, and he drives his car really fast. He gives no thought to the consequences until they affect him personally. And even then, he still would rather go out on an ultra-violent spree for one night than live the rest of his life in relative peace.

Questions About Criminality

  1. Why does Alex think he is different from other criminals? Is he different than them?
  2. How is Alex treated in prison? Is he punished? Does he get the treatment he deserves?
  3. Why do Alex's droogs get jobs as policeman? Why would the police hire former gang members?
  4. If Alex is no longer compelled to commit criminal acts, does it matter what process was used to get him to that point?

Chew on This

This society has moved beyond the "eye for eye" punishment for criminals laid out in Hammurabi's code, but it's unsure what the next step should be.

There are many ways to deal with criminals—punish them, kill them, or try to reform them. The death penalty seems to be the most extreme, but this film makes reformation into an extreme task.