1917 - John Anthony Burgess Wilson was born on
the 25th of February in Manchester, England. After he had studied English
Literature in the University of Manchester he joined the army in
1942 - Burgess marries Llewela Isherwood Jones, a
Welsh student at Manchester University. Later that year, she is assaulted by
American deserters, killing her unborn child.
1946 - 1954 -, Burgess teaches English Literature,
phonetics, Spanish, music, and drama at several middle schools in
1959 - Burgess is rushed to a neurological institute
in London with a possible brain tumor and the doctors tell him that he only has
one year to live. Burgess then decides to become a professional
The medical diagnosis turns out to be wrong, and Burgess
stays with his new career, writing over 35 novels and other books over the
course of his lifetime (Vision of Battlement 1965, The Wanting Seed 1962,
Honey for the Bears 1963, Earthly Powers 1980, etc.)
1962 - He publishes his most popular novel "A
1968 - On March 20th, Llewela Wilson died. In
October, Burgess marries Liliana Macellari, a linguist at Cambridge University.
The couple leaves England for good and takes up residence in Malta.
1969 - He teaches creative writing at both Princeton
and Columbia. In the same year the performance of his first symphony occurs at
the Summer Festival of the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in
1971 - Stanley Kubrick makes a film
of "A Clockwork Orange" which becomes very
1993 - Anthony Burgess dies on the
22nd of November in London.
The leading character and narrator of "A Clockwork
Orange" is Alex; a very violent and cruel 15 year old boy and his droogs
(friends) Dim, Pete and Georgie. After sitting in the Korova Milk bar, a place
where one can order milk with LSD, Alex and his droogs decide to hit the town.
Within the next few hours of night, he and his friends; assault an old man
returning from a library, hold up a small shop, fight a rival gang, steal a car,
drive it to a house called “Home”, where they proceed to attack the
writer that lives there and rape his wife in front of him. This describes just a
regular night of Alex and his droogs.
As the book
continues, Alex falls into bad standing with his droogs, who set him up to be
arrested. The plan is to call the police when Alex breaks into a rich old
lady’s house. Alex quite accidentally kills the old lady and the police
arrest him. He is found guilty for murder and should go to prison for fourteen
After almost two years in Prison, Alex hears of
a new programme that can "reform" a prisoner and have him out of prison in a
week's time. Alex has no idea of what the treatment really is and jumps to
At first, the accommodations are much better than prison -
Alex is given his own room and good food. Everything seems normal except for an
injection he is given "to improve his appetite." The next day, the true
treatment begins. Alex is brought into a movie screening room, and is bound in a
straightjacket, tied to a chair which allows him only to look at the screen, and
his eyelids are forced open. The doctors administering the "Reclamation
Treatment" (or Ludovico Treatment) begin playing many films which contain brutal
violence and rape and in one film you could also hear Beethoven's 9th
symphony. Normally Alex wouldn't have minded these films, but the injection he
was given makes him feeling intense pain all over his body. This treatment
continues for several hours per day for a hole week. Now Alex can only associate
a sickening pain with the violent lifestyle he once led.
At a press conference held upon his release (to prove the
effectiveness of the treatment), he is confronted with situations to fight, but
each time he feels sickness and pain and can't do anything. After Alex is
released, he enters into a world that has changed drastically since his arrest.
People who Alex has brutalised and taken advantage of in the past recognise him
and naturally want revenge.
His old "droogs" are policemen now and they beat him too.
Alex crawls to the home of the writer he and his droogs assaulted, seeking
refuge and food. At first, the writer doesn't recognise that it is Alex but then
the man realises who was in his house and calls some friends over to help him
get revenge. The man had read about Alex's controversial treatment in the news
and remembered something about Beethoven, so after locking Alex in an upstairs
room, the writer plays the 9th Symphony very loud. Alex can't stand the pain and
jumps out of the window.
His suicide attempt is made public, and the masses demand
that his treatment is reversed.
After leaving the hospital Alex meets with the third of his
original droogs, who now has a family and is living a socially acceptable life.
Alex, who now has new droogs, realises something is missing in his life. A new
found maturity and the overwhelming urge to settle down falls over him and he
essentially grows up.
The time and place of the story was not quite properly
given, but the dark and despicable state of the society in which Alex lives
suggests that it is set in a quite probable near future. The author, being from
England, is thought to have set it in England, but the novel is written so that
it could have happened anywhere.
The moral of the novel
is centered on free will, specifically the difference of “being
good” and the CHOICE of “being good.”
The "Ludovico Treatment" makes Alex step by step to "A
Clockwork Orange" a mixture of machine and man.
treatment of Alex in the novel can represent what society thinks should be done
about a criminal population.
And in the last chapter,
Alex’s emptiness that he later realises to be a need for settling down,
symbolises that most people grow and learn and change.
Alex is the “Humble Narrator” of this novel,
and speaks in a slang that was invented by Anthony Burgess throughout the story.
Words such as “see” are replaced with “viddied”;
“blood” with “krovvy”; “hit” with
“tolchock”; smell with “vonny”, old woman with
During his stay in Leningrad Burgess
picked up most of this "nadsat" (his own creation of