!! IS IT RIGHTFUL TO FORCE GOODNESS ON SOMEONE? !!
‘Go on, do me in, you bast##d cowards, I don’t want to live anyway, not in a stinking world like this one. It’s a stinking world because it lets the young get on to the old like you done, and there’s no law nor order anymore.’
‘A Clockwork Orange’ (ACO) is 1962’s futuristic novel by Anthony Burgess (AB) and the future world that ACO presents is not really something to look forward too. There is no timeline provided by AB for the world that he has illustrated in ACO, but looking at the way our world is shaping up with rapes, murders, violence; destructions of public property; lack of respect in young ones for the older people; people working like machines as if they are living to work as against working to live; attempts of theft in the houses of senior citizens - at times leading to their murder.
Aren’t these the news of almost every day?
Hasn’t our laws and police become helpless and inept to deal with the Hooligans?
Hasn’t our Government become a burden on the common man?
Aren’t many of us becoming the victims of extreme violence be it terms of terrorist attacks, racial fights, regional feuds etc?
And haven’t these become quite normal occurrences these days.
If you agree these things to be true for the world that we are living in, then the world that AB has illustrated in ACO is not very far away in future.
But the depiction of the future world, that too a doomed and hopeless one, is only one aspect of the ACO which if I am not wrong many other great writers have done in there works, in more or less the same way, (George Orwell’s ‘1984’, Aldous Huxley’s ‘A Brave New World’ etc.), it’s the 2nd aspect of ACO that makes it quite a different and famous work of AB, let me get into little bit of the plot to cover it all.
ABOUT THE PLOT: Alex, 15 year old, and his droogs (friends) form one of the many gangs of teenage hooligans that rock the city during the night time with violence and destruction. They beat innocent starry (old) people; attack shops and houses, loot their money and rape their women; they fight violently with each other and somehow always succeed in tricking the policemen. During the day time, all adults must work, and these kids attend schools and all, just like the boys and girls of these days, but at night they become a destructing force quite unmanageable by authorities.
During one such attack on the house of an old woman, Alex gets caught and is sent to jail for 2 years. From jail Alex is chosen as subject for experimenting upon with a new procedure of reconditioning called ‘Loduvico Technique’. This technique is based on the principle: ‘When we are Healthy we response the presence of the hateful with fear and nausea.’, so they impel the subject towards good/right by paradoxically dissuading him towards evil/wrong. After the experimentation is over, Subject’s desires/intentions to act violently is accompanied by strong feelings of physical distress and sickness, to counter which he has no option but to switch to goodness/righteousness.
To accomplish that, Alex is given doses of chemicals that brings in sickening feeling and then he is shown that videos of extreme violence, gang rapes etc., so that his mind and body gets accustomed to associating violence with pain and sickness. ‘Violence is very horrible thing. That’s what you are learning. Your body is learning it.’. Later on when he is shown the videos, even without injecting the medicines he feels pain and sickness, so much so that it becomes unbearable to him to watch them. The results turn out so effective that even a thought of doing wrong/evil makes Alex feel sick, he is ready to get beaten happily rather than hitting back.
With experiment being quite successful during the tests, Alex is freed and put into the real world. With the world being still the same, violence and all still reining in the streets at nights, Will Alex be able to cope with it? Will the experiment be fruitful; will it able to turn the criminals into good righteous beings? With power of choosing, taken away from Alex, as he’s made to do only good; will he be able to survive and defend himself in the violent world of which he himself was the part earlier? Read ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to know.
Divided into 3 parts total length of the book is 175 pages, with few pages for Glossary towards the end. In first part you find Alex’s and his friends involved in all the violent acts in their all night long orgies till the arrest of sentence of Alex; 2nd part covers the Alex miserable life in Jail and then experimentation of ‘Loduvico Technique’ on Alex; while in 3rd part you find Alex life to have become even more miserable as he faces the world with forced goodness and price he has to pay for his misdoings in the earlier part of his life.
ABOUT THE BOOK: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is narrated from the Alex’s viewpoint, and most of the time the language employed is ‘Nadsat’ with many of the Russian words like droogs(friends), veshch(thing), viddy(see), litso(face), baboochka(old woman) (and some words from other languages like Chai, sakar etc. from Hindi) in it. This is one aspect that makes the reading quite difficult. Although the meaning of all these words was provided in the glossary at the end pages, but time after time moving to and fro between the pages somewhat disturbs the flow of the reading. But if you show patience and keep on with reading, you will find that these words only make the reading quite a different experience and you’ll be able to visualize everything from the Alex’s mind (as it did to me, and it's a learning experience as well with me learning quite a few new words).
Once you get over this small barrier, you will find the book quite flowing. There is no dragging from the plot and it always makes you keep guessing till the very end. Best thing is, it grows stronger and stronger with every page so that the more you are into it, harder it becomes to leave it midway.
In 1971, Stanley Kubrick adapted ACO for a movie. It was hugely successful but controversial movie of its time and is considered as one of the best book to movie adaptation. Movie is considered as one of the best of Kubrick, and also one that made the book even more famous.
LAST WORDS: ACO is no fun read, you may enjoy the first part although it involves lot of violence, beating and fighting (if you do enjoy that, I guess even you are eligible to go through the ‘Loduvico Technique’ of re-conditioning). But it’s must read kind of book, that can make you think. The experiment though seems very much apt to be applied on the criminals; as it does promises an ideal world with all hooligans and criminals converted into model citizen. But as the writer has himself pointed out in one of the quote - ‘Goodness comes from within. It is something chosen. When a man cannot chose he ceases to be a man’ – how much effective, do you think, an experiment like this one can turn out to be. Well, you will find the answers in the 3rd part of the book, of which I’ve not revealed much.
It’s a serious read, though written in a comic way; with a stunning honesty, it will terrify you with the horrors about the future that we have in store, if our world continue to move in the direction in line with the concept of the ‘A Clockwork Orange’.
P.S : Few words about the Author and Few Quotes from the book are in the comment section.
PYAR HUMEIN PHIR MILAAEGA...