Another of the work’s stylistic trademarks is its frequent and graphic depiction of violence. In the first chapters of the book, Alex savagely beats a doddering scholar, rapes women and girls, and murders an elderly shut-in. But although Alex stands out as a merciless sadist in the earlier part of the work, later events reveal that other members of his society are also capable of similar behavior. The doctors who administer gruesome films to Alex seem thrilled by the violence. When the old scholar from the beginning of the book reencounters Alex, he and his cohort give the now defenseless youngster a vicious beating. When Alex implores the police to rescue him from his assailants, the “millicents” instead beat him and rape him with impunity. Even F. Alexander, the principled crusader for criminal rights, is overcome with bloodlust when he discovers that Alex was responsible for the fatal rape of his wife.
This societal susceptibility to sadism demonstrates a cynical view: that individuals are predisposed towards barbarism. Moreover, society seems somewhat arbitrarily to punish these impulses in some people, while allowing others to manifest such tendencies with impunity, and to withhold for itself the right to exert violence whenever it wishes. Important, too, is that the act of reading and enjoying A Clockwork Orange itself represents a relishing of violence. By producing such a grisly work, Burgess forces self-aware readers to assess their own barbaric tendencies and come to terms with the way in which society does and does not sanction these impulses.
Sadism and Society ThemeTracker
Sadism and Society Quotes in A Clockwork Orange
You came back to here and now whimpering sort of, with your rot all squaring up for a boohoohoo. Now that’s very nice but very cowardly. You were not put on this earth just to get in touch with God. That sort of thing could sap all the strength and the goodness out of a chelloveck.
But poor old Dim kept looking up at the stars and planets and the Luna with his rot wide open like a kid who’d never viddied any such things before, and he said:
“What’s on them, I wonder. What would be up there on things like that?”
I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”
He’d taken a big snotty tashtook from his pocket and was mopping the red flow puzzled, keeping on looking at it frowning as if he thought that blood was for other vecks and not for him. It was like he was singing blood to make up for his vulgarity when that devotchka was singing music. But that devotchka was smecking away ha ha ha now with her droogs at the bar, her red rot working and her zoobies ashine, not having noticed Dim’s filthy vulgarity. It was me really Dim had done wrong to.
Just because the police have not picked you up lately doesn’t, as you very well know, mean you’ve not been up to some nastiness.
More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines? I am serious with you, brothers, over this. But what I do I do because I like to do.
Bog murder you, you vonny stinking bratchnies. Where are the others? Where are my stinking traitorous droogs? One of my cursed grahzny bratties chained me on the glazzies. Get them before they get away. It was all their idea, brothers. They like forced me to do it. I’m innocent, Bog butcher you.
“Righty right, boys, we’ll start off by showing him that we know the law, too, but that knowing the law isn’t everything.”
…and that was the end of traitorous Georgie. The starry murderer had got off with Self Defence, as was really right and proper. Georgie being killed, though it was more than one year after me being caught by the millicents, it all seemed right and proper and like Fate.
Common criminals like this unsavoury crowd…can best be dealt with on a purely curative basis. Kill the criminal reflex, that’s all. Full implementation in a year’s time. Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that. They enjoy their so-called punishment. They start murdering each other.
This was real, very real, though if you thought about it properly you couldn’t imagine lewdies actually agreeing to having all this done to them in a film, and if these films were made by the Good or the State you couldn’t imagine them being allowed to take these films without like interfering with what was going on.
I do not wish to describe, brothers, what other horrible veshches I was like forced to viddy that afternoon. The like minds of this Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom and the others in white coats, and remember there was this devotchka twiddling with the knobs and watching the meters, they must have been more cally and filthy than any prestoopnick in the Staja itself. Because I did not think it was possible for any veck to even think of making films of what I was forced to viddy, all tied to this chair and my glazzies made to be wide open.
And what, brothers, I had to escape into sleep from then was the horrible and wrong feeling that it was better to get the hit than give it. If that veck had stayed I might even have like presented the other cheek.
He will be your true Christian…ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought even of killing a fly.
You’ve made others suffer…It’s only right you should suffer proper. I’ve been told everything that you’ve done, sitting here at night round the family table, and pretty shocking it was to listen to. Made me real sick a lot of it did.
It was that these doctor bratchnies had so fixed things that any music that was like for the emotions would make me sick just like viddying or wanting to do violence. It was because all those violence films had music with them. And I remembered especially that horrible Nazi film with the Beethoven Fifth, last movement. And now here was lovely Mozart made horrible.
It is not right, not always, for lewdies in the town to viddy too much of our summary punishments. Streets must be kept clean in more than one way.
You’ve sinned, I suppose, but your punishment has been out of all proportion. They have turned you into something other than a human being. You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good. And I see that clearly—that business about the marginal conditionings. Music and the sexual act, literature and art, all must be a source now not of pleasure but of pain.
When I woke up I could hear slooshy music coming out of the wall, real gromky, and it was that that had dragged me out of my bit of like sleep. It was a symphony that I knew real horrorshow but had not slooshied for many a year, namely the Symphony Number Three of the Danish veck Otto Skadelig, a very gromky and violent piece, especially in the first movement, which was what was playing now. I slooshied for two seconds in like interest and joy, but then it all came over me, the start of the pain and the sickness, and I began to groan deep down in my keeshkas. And then there I was, me who had loved music so much, crawling off the bed and going oh oh oh to myself and then bang bang banging on the wall creching: “Stop, stop it, turn it off!”
Oh it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum. When it came to the Scherzo I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva. And there was the slow movement and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured all right.
Tomorrow is all like sweet flowers and the turning vonny earth and the stars and the old Luna up there and your old droog Alex all on his oddy knocky seeking like a mate. And all that cal. A terrible grahzny vonny world, really, O my brothers. And so farewell from your little droog. And to all others in this story profound shooms of lipmusic brrrrrr. And they can kiss my shames. But you, O my brothers, remember sometimes thy little Alex that was. Amen. And all that cal.