Review: A Clockwork Orange

Can you force an evil person to be good? In his highly controversial 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess asks this question through the perspective of the power-hungry gang leader Alex, a delinquent who, along with his ‘droogs’, plagues his city with acts of merciless violence and sexual indecencies, all under the influence of a drugged milk. After being imprisoned for these heinous crimes, Alex is given an opportunity to abridge his sentence by participating in an experiment called the Ludovico Technique, designed to turn sadistic criminals into law-abiding citizens. However, its effects come at the expense of Alex’s mental stability, making him weak and sick to the stomach at thoughts of violence, only to realize he finds pleasure in absolutely nothing. The presentation of the novel suggests that the technique itself is almost as vulgar as the crimes it seeks to prevent, yet the novel is beautifully orchestrated to present its thesis while allowing audience interpretation and difference of opinion. Burgess also helps the reader slip out of reality by writing in an argot called "Nadsat" that combines English with Russian elements to create an otherworldly effect. This classic is the perfect piece for a reader looking for a new perspective on ethics and justice, or simply an introspective novel that challenges the way we think as a society.