A Clockwork Orange Summary and Short Synopsis
“A Clockwork Orange” essay topics assigned to students raise many controversial viewpoints toward this literary composition. The author of the book, Anthony Burgess, created a dystopian black comedy novel with satirical elements to show how difficult it is for modern society to differentiate evil from good. Analyzing this novel with our EssayBulls blog post, you can better understand what “A Clockwork Orange” is about.
“A Clockwork Orange” Summary
This is a story about a 15-year-old teenager named Alex who lives in Britain during a time when boy gangs rule the streets at night. To get in-depth knowledge of what the “A Clockwork Orange” book tells about, let’s consider its summary using a plot diagram.
Alex leads a small gang that robs houses by pretending to be travelers in need. In fact, they enter the writer’s place, beat him up, and rape his wife. However, as the gang tries to rob an old lady, the police are summoned, and Alex is left behind to take the fall.
Alex is sentenced to prison for an extended time in which he tries to find a way to get out early. He hears of a new experimental treatment supposed to cure criminals of their desire for violence. Alex is chosen to be the first prisoner to be put under this new treatment and is taken to a special facility of white coats under Doctor Brodsky’s watch.
The white coats tell him that he will be watching a series of films, and at first, he’s excited to try it. They give Alex a shot and strap him to a chair before watching the movie. However, the films are disturbing, often showing people getting killed. Alex begins to feel sick each time he sees these horrible acts. This continues over two years. But over time, Alex’s thoughts and behavior change. He wants to no longer think about doing bad things because he doesn’t want to feel sick.
At the end of the treatment, he is shown off to government officials and the press, and they pronounce that he is cured. When Alex is finally released, he goes home to find that his parents have brought in a tenant. After running away from his family, he decides that life is too complex and wants to commit suicide.
He goes to the library and reads books to find out a method, but older men meet him and beat him for all cruelties he used to commit. Alex can’t fight back due to his treatment. When the police arrive to break up the fighting, Alex recognizes one of the officers as one of his old friends. Still, the officers take him out of the country and beat him also.
With nowhere else to go, Alex stumbles back to the house of the writer that he had beaten all those years ago. The writer takes him and cares for him, recognizing he can be used to overthrow the government. But the pressure is too much, and Alex jumps out of the window, nearly killing himself. He awakes to find that he is in a hospital. The government restores his old personality and gives him a good job.
Falling action and resolution
After fully recovering, Alex is back on the street, running with a new gang and using the same tricks. Meanwhile, something in him changes, and he doesn’t feel like robbing others. In the end, after reflecting on his life, Alex realizes that he is growing up.
Reading this summary, you can easily understand the main plot elements and how actions flow in the novel. The “A Clockwork Orange” synopsis would be described more shortly without a detailed explanation. For instance, this synopsis example could be helpful to form your own approach to this story:
In the undefined future in England, teen Alex gathers a gang called “Droogs” to make some night raves. Sitting at the Korova Milkbar every night they drink milk laced with a drug to get a rush. After Alex is brought to jail, he becomes an object of an experiment where white coats transmit an idea to his brain that violence is repulsive. Still, coming back to the real world, Alex faces even more violence from his earlier prey.
“A Clockwork Orange” Book Specification
One of the unique characteristics of this story is the use of slang by the narrator. As there is no dictionary or formal translation, readers are thrown into a narrative that is almost a foreign language. Despite this, throughout the story, the audience should pick up on the definitions of words quite quickly, as the words are often used and given the proper context.
“A Clockwork Orange” themes and symbols
Repeated images of milk and snow represent the pure or goodness in Alex’s corrupt world. These images and the dialogue create the ethical debate on whether goodness should be an act of choice. In the story, it is argued that this choice is ultimately what makes humans themselves. Everyone would be clockwork oranges without the option: something that appears to be natural on the outside, but it is mechanical on the inside.
And this story also attempts to figure out the best way to deal with human badness. Does everyone suppress badness with sick feelings, or can people naturally become good? As Alex’s personality is returned to normal at the end of the story, readers can see the good can come naturally to people if given time. That the choice, whether it is for good or cruel, is a person’s right and that if badness is truly their dominant trait, then at least everyone will know that it was their own decision.
The story in the “A Clockwork Orange” book seemingly introduces a new Alex, an Alex who begins to grow out of mischief and realizes his life is changing. The author sets up Alex’s maturity path by starting the story with a youthful Alex of just 15 years old.
Still, this maturity is further pushed by the closing chapter, which, by the way, didn’t initially appear in the American version of the story. But what this new ending does for readers is present a finish of change and encourages readers that they too can reach a point where childish behaviors just don’t seem as effective. It is important to remember that this maturity happens at different times for different personalities.
“A Clockwork Orange” Characters and Their Meaning in the Story
Alex is the novel’s protagonist and a first-person narrator. He is only 15 years old when the book starts. Alex is a clever, compelling, and deeply flawed narrator. Alex forces readers to see the world through the eyes of a teen who is not only acting violently but enjoys it immensely. He is also the voice through which the author Anthony Burgess presents freedom of choice, the authority of the state, and the boundaries between them.
Pete is the minor aggressive gang member, a follower. He tries to diffuse the tension between Alex and Georgie. Unlike the others, by the time he is 19 years old, he leaves the violent teen culture behind, is married, and enters the adapted world of working families.
Georgie is like Alex – he is violent, ambitious, and smart. He is the gang member who tries to take action and researches possible targets. As Alex drifts through the night looking for chances to commit violence, Georgie’s motives are different. While Alex seeks violence for his own enjoyment, Georgie wants to focus on theft and financial reward.
Being big and robust, Dim irritates Alex. This character is not very bright, and Alex thinks of him mainly as enforcing muscle. Still, Dim is smart enough to grasp even when Alex treats him as an inferior. In the rising action, Dim is quick to disable Alex with a lash of his chain across Alex’s eyes and effectively turning him over to the police. Dim doesn’t change when he becomes a police officer himself.
Suggestions on “A Clockwork Orange” Essay Topics
- How human changes in utopian and dystopian fiction are based on “A Clockwork Orange.”
- What role does Alex’s character play in the novel “A Clockwork Orange”?
- How does the author reveal the theme of morality in “A Clockwork Orange”?
- Does freewill beat morality or vice versa in “A Clockwork Orange”?
- How does Stanley Kubrik’s movie adaption tackle the themes of the “A Clockwork Orange” book?
- The theme of villains and victims in Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange.”
- Compare and contrast Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange” and Brett Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho.”
- Musical presence in the book “A Clockwork Orange” and its impact on the reader.
- Chaos and structure as one of the main themes in “A Clockwork Orange.”
- The theme of choice in Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange.”
A Clockwork Orange Movie Review Example
Considered as one the greatest films made by director Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange is based on the novel written by Anthony Burgess in 1962. It tells about the story of Alex, a disturbed psychopath, and his violent gang he calls the “Droogs.” Roger Ebert describes A Clockwork Orange as an “ideological mess” as it pretends to oppose the state of police and mind control while indulging in a paranoid right-wing fantasy. The film depicts several humanitarian topics such as the nature of justice and free will, while using a conventional science-fiction setting.
The movie is presented in a totalitarian setting, where violent youths abound in a nearly distant, futuristic Britain. Local gangs rule the streets while drinking vellocet, a dose of drug-infused milk. The protagonist, Alex DeLarge, is the leader of a gang called the Droogs, which is often involved in fighting with other hoodlums, breaking into houses to steal, and raping multiple women. These activities were called “ultraviolence” in the film. Alex is portrayed as a despicable villain, or a character that kills, steals, and rapes anybody without any regard to human life. However, after one such session of these anarchic activities, Alex was betrayed by his gang, resulting in his capture by the police. This puts him into a condition where he is given the option to undergo a series of exploratory tests and a psychological corrective experiment to try and cure his wicked ways. This was called the Ludovico Treatment. The successful brainwashing turned him from a free, barbaric spirit into one without choices and free will. This condition left him at the mercy of those people he previously mistreated during the days of his criminal ways.
This act turns the audience’s disgust for Alex into a challenge of the viewer’s cultural assumptions and standards about morality. An extensive amount of savagery, brutality, nudity, and disturbing situations is shown as Alex faces retribution for his previous evil actions. Alex, just like the people he has previously done wrong, has been left in a vulnerable state, being powerless to defend from the judgment and consequences of his own actions. One scene shows a desperate Alex attempting to end his own life by jumping out of a window. The film shows another round of ultraviolence, but this time towards Alex.
This makes the viewers face an ethical conflict, whether it is justifiable to make a human suffer because of the previous actions they have brought upon others. Is this kind of revenge truly the justice Alex deserves? Will Alex really change for the better if the same violence he wreaked is cast upon him? One form of symbolism found in the movie is the fictional language called Nadsat. This language is widely used by the youths. At first, it might create confusion within the viewer’s point of view as it is hard to understand, but when Alex uses it to describe the dystopia and the horrible situation he is in, it slowly defines the meaning of the language.
A Clockwork Orange shows a series of unique and memorable moments through violence and art that is ahead of its time. In its time, the movie received mixed reviews from people complaining about the violence and language it has, and others that noted and indulged with the important ethical questions and standards the movie has illustrated. Despite the controversies, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation can be considered as one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces.
1. Ebert, Roger. “A Clockwork Orange.” February 2, 1972, https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/a-clockwork-orange-1972.
2. Lowne, Cathy. “A Clockwork Orange.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 May. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/topic/A-Clockwork-Orange-novel.
“A Clockwork Orange” Essay Topics and More Help at EssayBulls
Understanding the context of “A Clockwork Orange” book is not that easy, even if you read it several times. Sometimes it isn’t easy to cover all aspects of the novel in a short literature review essay. Consequently, EssayBulls is here for every student to give a hand with writing. Write us everything you need in the order instructions and get proposals from our website’s writers. From topic suggestions to analyzing the main novel’s idea – you’ll get it solved shortly!
Moreover, our team prepared a blog for you to find guides on general writing and such narrowed topics as literary analysis essays. Only reasonable prices, transparent policies, and high-ranked specialists wait for you here. Don’t delay your masterpiece, and join the community of students who are ready to expand their knowledge in any studying field.
Photo by Tamas Pap from Unsplash