To what extent does the reading of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Lolita’ force the reader to question their own moral values?
Both ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Lolita’ are written in 1st person from the perspective of the protagonists, Humbert Humbert and Alex, who are both despicable characters in different ways. The novels are settings of the novels are completely different, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ set in a dreary futuristic world and ‘Lolita’ set (mainly) in 1940s-50s America and revolve around two completely opposite, yet disgraceful people. That said both of the books somehow make the reader question the characters wrong doing.
In both of the novels the reader is shielded, through manipulation of language, from the true horror of what is happening in the narrative. In ‘A Clockwork Orange’ it is (especially when first reading the novel) sometimes quite hard to fully grasp what Alex is saying in the unusual ‘Nadsat’ slang he uses. When he is wanting ‘A lashing of ultraviolence’ and ...view middle of the document...
That said it is quite hard for the reader to remember that, because both narrators are telling their stories from their own view, they are unreliable and biased. Both protagonists of the novels have terrible moral values, and because we are either seduced or guarded from the true evil of the characters, language style could be seen to make the reader question their own moral values.
The complex personalities of both Alex and Humbert could be seen to make the audience question if they are truly evil. Humbert throughout the novel claims that his feelings for Lolita are true love, not lust, and the way he describes her - ‘and I looked at her and knew as clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth’- seems so passionate and honest that when he is describing his love for her it can be hard to remember that Lolita is a young girl and Humbert and much older man. He also describes girls of Lolita’s type as ‘nymphets’ and claims that it is he that can spot these girls, and it is not his fault that he feels the way he does about them because ‘they know’ exactly how they make men feel. Again, this could be seen as an example of Humbert’s bias narration or one of how Humbert genuinely has something wrong in his mind that makes him think that he is the victim in the situation. However this along with Hubert’s supposed true love for Lolita can make the audience question themselves as we truly find it hard to hate Humbert and grow increasingly sympathetic towards him throughout the book. Alex initially seems to come across as more purposefully malicious, with no care to anyone but himself. Yet by the end of the book Alex does want to become a better person wanting ‘a new chapter like beginning’. He blames his previous behaviour on ‘all it was was that [he] was young’. On the one hand, this could be seen as complete ridiculousness as the violence and horror he committed in many ways cannot be seen to be blames upon age. Alternatively, it could beg the question of whether Alex was naïve and much of his behaviour was due to this and if the changed society of the futuristic world that Burgess created (and possibly saw for the real worlds own future) had different social norms and pressures for someone of his generation.