A Clockwork Orange

Bildungsroman Conventions in 'A Clockwork Orange' 12th Grade

Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange is a 1960’s novel of the modern era that deals with horrific depictions of violence and rape conducted by the novel’s protagonist, Alex. With Burgess’s elaboration on the themes of humanity and freewill in the context of society, the crimes committed by Alex seem minor to the reader by the final chapters of the novel. The classification of A Clockwork Orange is difficult to establish as it conforms to conventions of several different genres including the dystopian, allegorical, as well as the Bildungsroman genre. A Clockwork Orange is finalised in the last chapter, with Alex coming of age, which makes the text conform to the traditional Bildungsroman genre. This conventional satisfying, or masculine, ending is not, however, the only element that plays a role in determining the extent to which the novel conforms to the Bildungsroman. Burgess’s novel also lacks elements of the literary tradition. Although conforming to a conventional plot progression, with the exclusion of several structural elements and a demoted character development, the novel A Clockwork Orange deviates from many of the conventions of a Bildungsroman in order for Burgess to further develop his thoughts on free will.


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