A Clockwork Orange Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange introduces teenage Alex, who lives in a world that fears him. Gangs run amok and violently beat, rape, and destroy for fun in this future dystopian Britain; however, this all changes for Alex when he is arrested and sentenced to endure the revolutionary rehabilitation technique of brainwashing. No longer able to commit violence without being physically sick, Alex is now defenseless in a world tailor-made for delinquency. His plight brings up questions of morality and ethics, exploring the grey areas of punishment as related to free will.

  • Alex : The novel's anti-hero and leader among his droogs. He often refers to himself as "Your Humble Narrator". (Having coaxed two ten-year-old girls into his bedroom, Alex refers to himself as "Alexander the Large" while raping them; this was later the basis for Alex's claimed surname DeLarge in the 1971 film.)
  • George or Georgie : Effectively Alex's greedy second-in-command. Georgie attempts to undermine Alex's status as leader of the gang. He is later killed during a botched robbery, while Alex is in prison.
  • Pete : The only one who doesn't take particular sides when the droogs fight among themselves. He later meets and marries a girl, renouncing his violent ways and even losing his former (Nadsat) speech patterns. A chance encounter with Pete in the final chapter influences Alex to realise that he grows bored with violence and recognises that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction.
  • Dim : An idiotic and thoroughly gormless member of the gang, persistently condescended to by Alex, but respected to some extent by his droogs for his formidable fighting abilities, his weapon of choice being a length of bike chain. He later becomes a police officer, exacting his revenge on Alex for the abuse he once suffered under his command.
  • P. R. Deltoid : A criminal rehabilitation social worker assigned the task of keeping Alex on the straight and narrow. He seemingly has no clue about dealing with young people, and is devoid of empathy or understanding for his troublesome charge. Indeed, when Alex is arrested for murdering an old woman, and then ferociously beaten by several police officers, Deltoid simply spits on him.
  • The prison chaplain : The character who first questions whether it's moral to turn a violent person into a behavioural automaton who can make no choice in such matters. This is the only character who is truly concerned about Alex's welfare; he is not taken seriously by Alex, though. (He is nicknamed by Alex "prison charlie" or "chaplin", a pun on Charlie Chaplin.)
  • Billyboy : A rival of Alex's. Early on in the story, Alex and his droogs battle Billyboy and his droogs, which ends abruptly when the police arrive. Later, after Alex is released from prison, Billyboy (along with Dim, who like Billyboy has become a police officer) rescue Alex from a mob, then subsequently beat him, in a location out of town.
  • The prison governor : The man who decides to let Alex "choose" to be the first reformed by the Ludovico technique.
  • The Minister of the Interior , or the Inferior , as Alex refers to him. The government high-official who is determined that Ludovico's technique will be used to cut recidivism.
  • Dr. Branom : Brodsky's colleague and co-developer of the Ludovico technique. He appears friendly and almost paternal towards Alex at first, before forcing him into the theatre and what Alex calls the "chair of torture".
  • Dr. Brodsky : The scientist and co-developer of the "Ludovico technique". He seems much more passive than Branom, and says considerably less.
  • F. Alexander : An author who was in the process of typing his magnum opus A Clockwork Orange , when Alex and his droogs broke into his house, beat him, tore up his work and then brutally gang-raped his wife, which caused her subsequent death. He is left deeply scarred by these events, and when he encounters Alex two years later he uses him as a guinea pig in a sadistic experiment intended to prove the Ludovico technique unsound. He is given the name Frank Alexander in the film.
  • Cat Woman : An indirectly named woman who blocks Alex's gang's entrance scheme, and threatens to shoot Alex and set her cats on him if he doesn't leave. After Alex breaks into her house, she fights with him, ordering her cats to join the melee, but reprimands Alex for fighting them off. She sustains a fatal blow to the head during the scuffle. She is given the name Miss Weathers in the film.

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