work OrangeA Developmental Study of Alex in Kubrick’s A Clockwork OrangeSynopsis of A Clockwork OrangeIn A Clockwork Orange, the main character is that of a mildly youngchild of 15 who, along with his fellow friends, or “Droogs”, partake in eveningsof Ultra-Violence. Ultra Violence consists of random beatings, theft,destruction, and rape. The main character, Alex, is the self-proclaimed leaderof the pack, and makes judgment on their actions pending on his mood.
His Droogseventually find themselves under his direct rule, following his every word, anddecide to challenge his authority. The three Droogs (Dim, Georgie, and Pete) join Alex on his romp to alocal “fat farm” to pillage the goods therein. Inside, Alex stumbles upon theowner of the resort, and after a length scuffle with her, ends up giving her ablow to the head with a rather large, ceramic replica of an erect penis. When heleaves the outer gates of the complex, Dim surprises him by smacking a milkbottle against his face. His counterparts escape while little Alex is leftbleeding and blinded to deal with the police.Order now
Upon interrogation of Alex, he discovers that the blow he delivered tothe young lady was a fatal one. He is charged with first-degree murder andsentenced to 14 years in prison. While there, he befriends the resident ministerand becomes a helper to his service. The minister, Alex soon discovers, is apart in a new form of treatment that is trying to be implemented prisons tohelp “cure” inmates from committing acts of violence. Through luck anddiscussion with the higher officials in the prison, Alex is chose to be a guineapig for the experiment, and is sent to become “inoculated from violence”. The treatment consisted of Alex being strapped down to a chair in frontof a cinema screen, having electrodes attached to his head, and being keptfocused by small pairs of clamps used to disable his ability to blink.
This,along with the injection of an experimental serum, is monitored whilst he viewsmovies of UltraViolence. The serum leaves him vulnerable to his surroundings,which are destructive films, and induces such feelings of helplessness, fear,and near-death paralysis, similar to that of drowning. Alex soon associates thisfeeling of distraught with the violence, and with the background music beingplayed throughout the entire ordeal: Beethoven, Alex’s main love. The finalresult is that whenever Alex is confronted with either violent acts of any kind,or the sweet strings of Ludwig Van, he is soon on his knees in pain and agony. When he is released, his parents abandon him.
He meets up with a fewmembers of his old gang that have turned into crooked cops, and with theirnewfound power and long-lasting loathe of Alex, they beat him much and leave himfor dead, this of which brought on the sickness that he was conditioned for. Stumbling in the dark for help, he comes across a polite looking residence thatlooked vaguely familiar. Eventually, Alex realizes that he is in the presence ofa former victim of his, but believes that the owner would not recognize him. To his dismay, the author did recognize him after hearing Alex sing asong in a very similar fashion to the way his attackers did 2 years ago. Afterslipping a sedative into Alex’s wine, Alex wakes up to find himself in a lockedroom on the second floor of an apartment high-rise. Through the floorboards,Alex starts to hear the hateful sounds of Beethoven, and goes into his sicknessfits.
No exits, No escapes. His only way out is to jump out of the closed windowand end his life. He does just that. Alex wakes in a hospital.
The author was jailed for attempted murder,and the government officials that started the program were ridiculed andharassed out of their positions. Alex finds himself broken and hurt, but histhoughts are that of the Ultra-Violence. Alex was cured and ready to live again. Aspects of PsychologyIn A Clockwork Orange, Alex is portrayed as two different people livingwithin the same body.
As a mischievous child raping the world, he as seen asfilth. His actions and blatant disrespect towards society are categorized underthat of the common street bum. However, when he is away from his evening attire,he is that of suave. His clothing, his words, his overall attitude. Thedistinction between the two is triggered by the gentle sounds of Ludwig VanBeethoven.
The psychology of Alex would be that of a serial killer. He is a classicexample of Darwin’s, Skinner’s, Freud’s, Erikson’s, and Adler’s major theories. Alex is not truly close to any other person that he comes in contactwith in the film. He is using his parents for a place to live, and they show noemotion towards him, good or bad.
His love for his gang is not that of amale/male platonic relationship that is common in brotherhoods. It is that of amarriage of like interests, when the parties involved loathe each otherpersonally. Society is against him for all his mortal sins. The only livingcreature that he shows love for is his snake. Darwin’s theory of man having the same thought process’s of animalsholds an interesting bearing upon Alex. Alex’s love is for his snake.
Generallylove is defined by an understanding, or a closeness between two items. The snakeis represented by many things in the natural world today. Freud’s analyzation for the male closeness to the snake is that the personinvolved is questioning his sexuality, or his love towards the female gender. Alex keeps coming back to his snake after his nights on the town, and his firstconcern with life after he is paroled is his dear snake.
This, combined with thefact that keeps his snake in a chest under his bed ( the most recognized sexualitem in an average household), show’s his inadequacies with his sexualperformance and his penis. He feels that by keeping in contact with his snake,he will be more of a man then he already is, thus making him more noticeable andattractive towards the opposite sex. Therefore, Alex doesn’t view his snake asan equal, but as a greater being capable of becoming a close friend and asecurity blanket. The snake is also used in many different cultures to represent the evil andhate that man kind dwells on.
When something evil happens, culture blames all ofit’s fears upon the snake, the idol of fear. The love that Alex feels for hissnake could fall under the love of understanding. With this love, Alex feelsthat he can relate to his snake, and to what society views the snake as. Alexfinds the snake to represent sin and the hate that spawned the world as we knowit today.
In Genesis, the serpent convinced eve to disobey her god and to eat anapple from the tree of life, thus causing man to not be eternal, and for woman’schildbirth to be complex and painful. In Christianity, the snake is theoriginator of sin. Alex feels that he is the modern bringer of sin. Alex often finds himself in many situations where he is surrounded withscenes of graphic sex or some sort of phallic reference.
After a night of Ultra-Violence, Alex and his droogs find themselves relaxing at the Karova Milk Bardrinking Milk Plus, Milk Plus Dreminol, and Milk Plus Synthemesc. The bar isadorned with images and sculptures of naked women in various positions of sexualencounters, all of which with exaggerated colors and lengths of fluffy hair. This corresponds with Harlow’s experiments with monkey babies finding comfort insoft items in times of distress. Alex finds comfort in the fluffy hair andsoftness of the environment of the bar. When he has committed an act ofdistressing nature, be it violence or everyday normal occurrences, he retreatsto Karova to bring him a feeling of warmth, satisfaction, and justification ofhis previous deeds.
This form of relaxation is common from children of broken homes. Freudbelieves that the self-image within a man is shaped in the first 5 years of life. With the response that Alex’s parents give to him in his home-life, it isobvious that they did not offer much love to the growing child. By Freud’sbelief, if the child does not receive the proper love from a mother that itshould, it will find other means to replace the comfort that a mother provides. Alex’s comfort was the violence and the pleasure brought from a night completed. There is no reference in the movie about Alex’s parents being his naturalborn parents, or if one of them died and remarried.
My beliefs are that Alex’snatural born mother was beaten and eventually left his father. Alex was in themiddle of this action, and like Bandura’s findings, the child imitates theaction that he views and takes it as natural, thus using it in everyday life. Alex’s aggression upon society are truly the natural urges and feelings that heexperiences, thus making him normal, being unaware of the wrongs that hisviolence induces. In a Freudian aspect, this could explain a vast majority of his aggressionthat he displays.
His actions interpret his hatred towards his father for beingthe reason he lacks a parental security blanket. As quoted in one of the firstfew scenes: “and in the mess of wobbly chaos the drunken old malchek had foundhimself lying in, he had managed to be able to push out an ugly lyric or two. Now, the one thing that I truly hate in the world is a drunken old malcheksinging out the songs of his father with an occasional “blurp,blurp” inbetween. “, this shows his loath for 1) Disrespect for music. 2) Drunks, and 3) Men in his fathers image.
The music was his salvation, for it could snap him in and out of hisdementia. The music was used in a pseudo-Pavlov experiment to eliminate Alex’slove for violence. In the experiment, Alex ingested a serum that would induce adeathlike paralysis. While the serum was taking effect, he was bombarded withsights of violence and the sweet sounds of Ludwig Van Beethoven, both leaving animpression in his psyche, relating the sickness to the sights and sounds that hewas subjected to. In Pavlov’s experiments, his major goal was to prove that he could train asubject to give a conditioned response with no reinforcement.
This wasaccomplished by training a dog to salivate when he heard a bell ring. The dogwas use to the sound of a ringing bell before receiving his food. Eventually,Pavlov removed the food from the experiment, but the dog retained theconditioned response of salivating whenever he heard the bell ring. Thus aconditioned response without positive nor negative reinforcement. Alex’sconditioned response was to fall to the “sickness” when subjected to Beethoven.
With the sickness being the conditioned response, there is no Reinforcementbecause the sounds of Beethoven were not intentional, thus not needingreinforcement. However, Alex’s trauma could also be referred to as a Skinner approach totreatment. Skinner’s theory was that one could achieve a conditioned response bygiving the subject positive or negative reinforcement. In his experiments, amouse was put in a cage with nothing but a pressable button and a light. Whenthe bar was depressed, the light flashed and food was delivered into the cage.
If the mouse were dropped into a similar cage, it would be safe to assume thatit would retain the reaction to hit a bar and receive food. The conditionedresponse was to hit the bar when hungry. The reinforcement was the food that wasprovided by completing the response. In Alex’s case, the reinforcement would bethe metal satisfaction of not going through with his violent needs when he issubjected to violent surroundings.
In conclusion, the theories used as a basis behind Stanley Kubrik’s AClockwork Orange, resemble that of the theories that came from the greaterthinkers of modern time. Alex, the guinea pig in this tale, is a classic exampleof many psychologist’s case studies, and could be analyzed differently from each.Music and Movies