A Clockwork Orange

The Character of Alex in A Clockwork Orange: What's He Going to Be Then, Eh?

As both the protagonist and narrator of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, the character of Alex is an intriguing study from start to finish. Specifically, in comparing part one and part three of the novel, Alex's world, internally and externally, his characterization and travails are shown to be mirror images of each other, both identical and reversed. Where Alex was the soulless victimizer in part one, he finds himself repeatedly a victim in part three. Where he was once welcome at the story's start, he is cast out at the close. What gives him pleasure at the beginning, in part three gives him pain. This neat symmetrical structure clearly and symbolically portrays how much Alex has changed and what Ludovico's Technique has done to him.

In Part I, Alex, as the extremely vicious leader of a gang, is a 15-year-old arrogant hooligan without a grain of sympathy for his victims. He doesn't appear to rape, rob, beat or murder for money, valuables, sexual satisfaction or other tangible things. As we see early on in the Korova Milkbar, he is willing to spend every penny he has on drinks and snacks for old women, just ìso we'd have more of an incentiveÖfor some shop-crasting [thieving]î (8). Alex is depicted as...

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