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A Clockwork Orange Essay: A Modernistic Work

A Clockwork Orange as a Modernistic Work

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, published in 1962, technically falls after the period deemed as ‘Modernism’, yet it embodies all of the features that were characteristic of that literary era. Burgess’s novel is a futuristic look at a Totalitarian government.

A Clockwork Orange abandons normal ‘language’ (which Modernists believed couldn’t always convey meaning anyway) and is written in ‘Nadsat’ (which means teenager). It is a slang that is spoken by the teenagers at the time. Burgess uses approximately two-hundred and fifty ‘nadsat’ words (most of which have Russian roots) to convey his story. This gives the reader a sense of intimacy with Alex and his ‘droogs’ (friends) due to the fact that the adults in the novel can’t understand what they are govoreeting (saying). There is also a disruption of the linear flow of narrative aside from this private language; Alex (‘Our Humble Narrator’) tells the story in a remembering type sequence, but often interjects with thoughts or questions posed directly at the reader.

Aside from the strange language that is found on the pages of this novel, one of the most obvious modernistic features is Burgess’s ability to shock. There are many different scenes that are quite disturbing and violent. Alex’s propensity to rape young girls (ten years old), and his absolute joy in the sight of blood and pain. ‘ …while I ripped away at this and that and the other…and real good horrorshow [good] groodies [breasts] they were that then exhibited their pink glazzies [eyes], O my brothers, while I untrussed [undresses] and got ready for the plunge. Plunging I could slooshy [hear] the cries of agony’ ( Burgess 23). This ties in with the fact that, as readers, we tend to follow the actions of Alex and his droogs and it is easy to get caught up in all this violent action and loose sight of the real meaning of Burgess’s novel. Burgess writes this novel from and to the “ID”. Alex and his droogs embody all animal or primal instincts and the tale that has been set before the reader has little respect for realism. We are presented with a world in which the teenagers rule the nights, keeping all real people in their houses. A world where there are milk bars (moloko kordova) in which fifteen year olds can be served with milk that was laden with drugs.

A Clockwork Orange Essay: A Movie Analysis

A Clockwork Orange A Movie Analysis

In 1962, Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange was published for the first time. This novel was an anti-utopian fable about the near future, where teenage gangs habitually terrorize the inhabitants of a shabby metropolis. The novel deals with the main focus that man is a sinner but not sufficiently a sinner to deserve the calamities that are heaped upon him. It is a comic novel about a man’s tragic lot. (Bergonzi 152).

In 1971, Stanley Kubrick turned Burgess’ novel into a 136 minute, color motion picture produced by Warner Brothers. The movie starred Malcolm McDowell as the young gangster guilty of rape and murder. Kubrick was both writer and director.

Stanley Kubrick was born July 26, 1928 in the Bronx, New York. He is an accomplished director with other ground breaking movies under his belt, such as The Shining, Paths of Glory, and 2001 A Space Odyssey. His films have one common theme- the dehumanization of mankind. He is also known for his symmetric image composition and long “zooming out” and/or “zooming in” sequences. Kubrick constructs three-way conflicts and utilizes the techinique of extreme close-ups of intensely emotional faces. An interesting note is that Kubrick often uses the number 114 in his movies. In Clockwork Orange, Alex is given “Serum 114” when he undergoes Ludovico treatment. (Internet Movie Database 1) Some critics claim that it is due to the brilliance of Kubrick that Clockwork Orange was so successful. In his book The Science Fiction and Fantasy Handbook, Alan Frank writes, “Had the movie been the work of a lesser film maker, it is unlikely that it would have had the reception it received; as it is, [Kubrick’s] brutalization of Burgess…

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…reated a controversial film that brought the novel of Anthony Burgess to life. The violence and rapes were forced on the watcher and the nature of mankind as a sinner was driven into the minds of those who sat through the 136 minute film. Bibliography

A Clockwork Orange .

Beck, Michael and Thomas Waites. Cineman Syndicate. 1979. Received from America Online on April 18, 1997.

Bergonzi, Bernard, Contemporary Novelists.1976.

Cohen, Alexander J., Clockwork Orange and the Aestheticization of Violence. Accessed April 28, 1997 from the A Clockwork Orange homepage.

Gottlieb, Sidney, Masterplots II.1987.

Shipman, David. A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films. In and Out of this World. Hamlyn Publishing, Middlesex, 1985.

Utting, Bryce. A Clockwork Orange discussion notes. Accessed April 25, 1997 from A Clockwork Orange home page.

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