A Clockwork Orange-Trope Finder

A trope of dystopian novels that is found in “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess is the mysterious government that controls everything. Throughout the text, there are subtle, vague mentions of this government, and every time it sheds more light on its role. The indications are that there is a powerful government that is in charge, but we do not learn much about. We are led to believe that the government is “evil”, and that they will throw anyone who opposes them into jail, or worse.

Burgess uses this specific trope very subtly throughout the novel. He vaguely mentions the government a few times, providing more information each time. He uses this as an explanation for Alex’s operation, and also to instill fear in the reader. When Alex is in state jail, the chief of police says, “The Government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories. Cram criminals together and see what happens. You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment. Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders.” From this quote, we can clearly see that the government is against individual thinking and intellectuals, and will not hesitate to punish anyone who disagrees with or speak out against them. Also, by the capital G on “Government”, we can tell that Alex thinks of the government almost as one singular person who holds tons of power. Burgess instills fear in the reader by this, but also indicates that the reason Alex is being transferred into the operation building is because of the need for more space for the “political offenders”, adding more mystery to this controlling government.

I believe that Anthony Burgess does a very effective job of using this trope. Even though it is a pretty common one, he makes sure that it does not seem like a copy of other uses with his writing style. By purposely making the government mysterious and by not mentioning it that much, the reader is left confused at first about the power in the novel, but then it becomes intriguing as we learn more. We begin to wonder why this government is such a scary and powerful element, and also how it functions. By not completely answering these questions, at least not obviously, Burgess ensures that the reader will begin to feel the same way about the government that the characters do, which adds a fantastic element of tone and makes it easier to draw meaning from the novel.

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