Alex, Your Humble Friend and Narrator
In A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess emphasizes visual perception in his portrayal of his notorious protagonist’s consciousness. Alex is a character who indulges in the “good old ultra-violence” and the “in-and-out [sex].” There are numerous articles and essays that critique and examine various facets of A Clockwork Orange, including the effects of violence on youth, authoritarian government, and the tumultuous relationship between science and the state. However, by glossing over the Ludovico technique, literary and film critics overlook the relationship between visual perception and consciousness.
In my project I want to emphasize the role of the Ludovico technique and how it illuminates the other themes of the work. The Ludovico Technique, an aversion therapy, does not permanently change the consciousness of the protagonist Alex. Alex’s perceptions are hijacked as the technique is administered. While Alex does experience minor changes; he is defenseless against physical and verbal abuse, his thought process remains unchanged. Alex attempts to think of how he would typically deal with the problem at hand but, due to the Ludovico technique, he suffers from nausea. It is also interesting that, despite the therapy, Alex continues to think in a violent and sexual way. The conclusion of both the novel and film is left ambiguous; it is unclear what will happen to Alex, but Alex shows self-awareness. In the novel Alex also acknowledges, “I am not young, not no longer, oh no. Alex like groweth up, oh yes.” In the film, Alex merely exclaims that he has been cured and a dream-like vision of a sexual encounter appears. The ending leaves much to be desired but it is important that Alex’s consciousness is ‘intact’. The Ludovico technique could not take hold of Alex’s brain.