An Analysis of the Book a Clockwork Orange

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Category: Philosophy
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“A Clockwork Orange” is a fantastic book that, ideally, should be read with all 21 chapters it was originally intended to have. This version articulates author Burgess’s point more clearly, as not only he himself has stated, but as we can also witness through the transformation of the protagonist Alex’s character. With the 20 chapter version, nothing really is accomplished in the end. Despite Alex’s character experiencing many changes throughout the book, he remains essentially the same. To begin with our main character, Alex is portrayed as someone who merely follows his deranged thoughts. Although it’s not evident from the start, the book is essentially about the concept of free will or choice. Alex is a great emblem of this attribute, but we often disregard it. Even though afforded free will, he consistently makes poor decisions, leading us to believe that he’s unlikely to change. The recurring quote, “What’s it going to be then eh” (Parts 1, 2, and 3), suggests Alex’s indifference. This phrase though finds its answer in the 21 chapter version and not in the abridged one, as it provides clarity about Alex’s decisions and his ultimate life path. (Growing up)

Equally important in the violent and dramatic world that Burgess paints, is the mention of the wind-up toy. In Part three, Chapter 7 (which appears only in the 21 chapter edition), Alex compares youth to a wind-up toy that can merely move in straight lines and struggles with obstacles. Through this analogy, we see Alex mature as the narrative evolves, comparing and relating the capriciousness of youth to his own life. This narrative development helps to convey Burgess’s intended image of Alex; not merely as a Clockwork Orange, but as a unique individual with distinct thoughts. The 20 chapter version, however, omits this part, leaving the reader with Alex, who is indistinguishable from most other youth in the book.

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Further driving home the point is the quote – “What about me? Am I just to be a Clockwork Orange?”. This quote underlines Alex’s desperation for individuality. In the 20 chapter version, his pursuit of individuality appears superficial because his character, towards the end, remains unchanged. However, in the 21 chapter version, Alex comes to understand what he truly desires and achieves genuine individuality, opting to be unlike the person he used to be. This marks a departure from most youth in the narrative, thus ensuring that he doesn’t end up as a mere “Clockwork Orange”.

All things considered, the evidence clearly suggests that the full-fledged 21 chapter version of “A Clockwork Orange” more accurately portrays the message that Burgess sought to communicate, unlike its 20-chapter counterpart. It allows us to appreciate the uniqueness of Alex’s character and provides us with an understanding of his character development, something that’s absent in truncated form of the book. Nevertheless, in the end, the choice, about which version to read, is ultimately yours!

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An Analysis of the Book A Clockwork Orange. (2022, Nov 14). Retrieved from