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Discussing Issues Of Morality In Anthony Burgess

2281 words - 10 pages

"When a man ceases to choose, he ceases to be a man" Discussing Issues of Morality in Anthony Burgess 'A Clockwork Orange' By Linsey May This study was initiated by an interview which Burgess gave in response to the controversy and acclaim equally given to his complex classic 'A Clockwork Orange'. Burgess suggested that the essence of the novel was an informal philosophical discussion as to the provenance of free will in issues of morality. This lead me to explore various philosophical responses to free will (mainly Pelagianism and early Existentialism ) in order to enlighten the fable that Burgess creates.

Although both the novel and Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation ...view middle of the document...

But Alex does not follow the actions of a 'normal' 14 year old boy (in the conventional sense of the word). Alex chooses to spend his leisure time raping, stealing and consequently murdering. Burgess purposely chose a 14 year old as it is a time of transition in life. It is an age when a person wishes to be treated as an adult, when it suits them. Also, highly driven by hormones and confused by a hoard of influences, it is a time when a person must decide for themselves which of these influences they wish to follow and which to disregard. But the question I wish to raise is not whether these actions are right or wrong, but whether Alex has the choice to do them of his own free will . There are many approaches, but I wish to concentrate on the Pelagianists theory, focusing on their theories on predestination and redemption. Pelagianism (named after the British heretic Pelagius) denies predestination and that God has in any way preordained the courses of our lives. It claims that there is no chance for redemption as every man is responsible for his own actions. In the eyes of the Pelagianists, there is no need for redemption, because once a man has chosen his path, there is no turning back and no chance of forgiveness. It is unlike Augustianists, an opposing philosophy who relate all sin back to Original Sin . Pelagianists believe strongly in free will and Alex would be highly commended by them. In their opinion, what Alex is doing is morally and ethically correct. Expanding on this, I wish to explore the nature of Alex's free will and the extent of his morality. I wish to explore aspects and examples in the novel which reinforce the Pelagianists theory.

The most important aspect of free will is that it is synonymous with responsibility. A man exercising his free will must also be willing to accept the consequences of his actions. A life that is predestined is therefore void of all responsibility, as the course of that life in not in control of the being. Whereas any being who is creating their own destiny must be both willing and able to accept responsibility for their actions. Philosopher Martin Luther believed that Christians, a long as they are on Earth are both sinners and saints. Sin is a persuasive action found in both life and religion and the saints are merely sinners who accept God's grace. In this light, although we have no confirmation of Alex's religious beliefs, Alex could be considered saintly, as he is willing to accept consequences from authority and God and responsibility for his actions. This is shown through Alex's attitude towards confinement. "All right, I do bad.......and if I get loveted, well too bad for me." This is a excellent example of how Alex is willing to accept the consequences of his actions. I believe this shows that he is acting entirely by exercising his free. Alex is making clear and concise choices and is fully aware of the consequences. Alex is a free...

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