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Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange In A Clockwork Orange, author Anthony Burgess deals with the matter of depriving a criminal the ability to make a moral choice. This topic of behavioral conditioning was presented by the psychologist B.F. Skinner in the 1950’s and caused uproar in society, striking a chord with Burgess. In Skinner’s essay “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” he shows his solutions for changing a criminal’s behavior with positive reinforcement. Professor Gerald Smith of the University of Utah took it a step further than Skinner. Smith proposed an implanted device that measured the adrenaline level in convicts. His assumption was that the adrenaline level would rise from the excitement received while committing a crime. If the adrenaline levels became high, an electrical pulse would send signals to a receiver, which the parole officer could read. Inadvertently, the device failed to distinguish the difference between committing a crime, and the adrenaline rush involved with lovemaking. Smith’s r! easoning was that the convict loses nothing, since he is a prisoner, already without freedom. Burgess explains, “I began to see red, and felt I had to write the book” (Alleger 172). The absurdity of this behavioral conditioning process was one of the main reasons for Burgess to write his novel. His visit to Russia only confirmed his mission. He witnessed Russian gangs called “stilyagi,” which were a major nuisance for Russian cities. Even in Burgess’ hometown in England, the streets were overrun with young hoodlums, which referred to themselves “teddy boys”. Burgess decided to set his story in the future, when gangs have complete rule of the night. The main character Alex, a ruthless villain, has a fine ear for classical music, especially Beethoven. This trait humanizes him, and even makes him likable to the reader. Burgess’ strong musical background seems to be the cause of his avid taste...

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Clockwork Orange . (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:50, September 01, 2014, from