alexclo Psychological Analysis of Alex in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

A Psychological Analysis of Alex in A Clockwork Orange

In A Clockwork Orange, Alex is portrayed as two different people living

within the same body. As a mischievous child raping the world, he as seen as

filth. His actions and blatant disrespect towards society are categorized under

that of the common street bum. However, when he is away from his evening attire,

he is that of suave. His clothing, his words, his overall attitude. The

distinction between the two is triggered by the gentle sounds of Ludwig Van

Beethoven.

The psychology of Alex would be that of a serial killer. He is a classic

example of Darwin’s, Skinner’s, Freud’s, Erikson’s, and Adler’s major theories.

Alex is not truly close to any other person that he comes in contact

with in the film. He is using his parents for a place to live, and they show no

emotion towards him, good or bad. His love for his gang is not that of a

male/male platonic relationship that is common in brotherhoods. It is that of a

marriage of like interests, when the parties involved loathe each other

personally. Society is against him for all his mortal sins. The only living

creature that he shows love for is his snake.

Darwin’s theory of man having the same thought process’s of animals

holds an interesting bearing upon Alex. Alex’s love is for his snake. Generally

love is defined by an understanding, or a closeness between two items. The snake

is represented by many things in the natural world today.

Freud’s analyzation for the male closeness to the snake is that the person

involved is questioning his sexuality, or his love towards the female gender.

Alex keeps coming back to his snake after his nights on the town, and his first

concern with life after he is paroled is his dear snake. This, combined with the

fact that keeps his snake in a chest under his bed ( the most recognized sexual

item in an average household), show’s his inadequacies with his sexual

performance and his penis. He feels that by keeping in contact with his snake,

he will be more of a man then he already is, thus making him more noticeable and

attractive towards the opposite sex. Therefore, Alex doesn’t view his snake as

an equal, but as a greater being capable of becoming a close friend and a

security blanket.

The snake is also used in many different cultures to represent the evil and

hate that man kind dwells on. When something evil happens, culture blames all of

it’s fears upon the snake, the idol of fear. The love that Alex feels for his

snake could fall under the love of understanding. With this love, Alex feels

that he can relate to his snake, and to what society views the snake as. Alex

finds the snake to represent sin and the hate that spawned the world as we know

it today. In Genesis, the serpent convinced eve to disobey her god and to eat an

apple from the tree of life, thus causing man to not be eternal, and for woman’s

childbirth to be complex and painful. In Christianity, the snake is the

originator of sin. Alex feels that he is the modern bringer of sin.

Alex often finds himself in many situations where he is surrounded with

scenes of graphic sex or some sort of phallic reference. After a night of Ultra-

Violence, Alex and his droogs find themselves relaxing at the Karova Milk Bar

drinking Milk Plus, Milk Plus Dreminol, and Milk Plus Synthemesc. The bar is

adorned with images and sculptures of naked women in various positions of sexual

encounters, all of which with exaggerated colors and lengths of fluffy hair.

This corresponds with Harlow’s experiments with monkey babies finding comfort in

soft items in times of distress. Alex finds comfort in the fluffy hair and

softness of the environment of the bar. When he has committed an act of

distressing nature, be it violence or everyday normal occurrences, he retreats

to Karova to bring him a feeling of warmth, satisfaction, and justification of

his previous deeds.

This form of relaxation is common from children of broken homes. Freud

believes that the self-image within a man is shaped in the first 5 years of life.

With the response that Alex’s parents give to him in his home-life, it is

obvious that they did not offer much love to the growing child. By Freud’s

belief, if the child does not receive the proper love from a mother that it

should, it will find other means to replace the comfort that a mother provides.

Alex’s comfort was the violence and the pleasure brought from a night completed.

There is no reference in the movie about Alex’s parents being his natural

born parents, or if one of them died and remarried. My beliefs are that Alex’s

natural born mother was beaten and eventually left his father. Alex was in the

middle of this action, and like Bandura’s findings, the child imitates the

action that he views and takes it as natural, thus using it in everyday life.

Alex’s aggression upon society are truly the natural urges and feelings that he

experiences, thus making him normal, being unaware of the wrongs that his

violence induces.

In a Freudian aspect, this could explain a vast majority of his aggression

that he displays. His actions interpret his hatred towards his father for being

the reason he lacks a parental security blanket. As quoted in one of the first

few scenes: “…and in the mess of wobbly chaos the drunken old malchek had found

himself lying in, he had managed to be able to push out an ugly lyric or two.

Now, the one thing that I truly hate in the world is a drunken old malchek

singing out the songs of his father with an occasional “blurp,blurp” in

between.”, this shows his loath for

1) Disrespect for music.

2) Drunks, and

3) Men in his fathers image.

The music was his salvation, for it could snap him in and out of his

dementia. The music was used in a pseudo-Pavlov experiment to eliminate Alex’s

love for violence. In the experiment, Alex ingested a serum that would induce a

deathlike paralysis. While the serum was taking effect, he was bombarded with

sights of violence and the sweet sounds of Ludwig Van Beethoven, both leaving an

impression in his psyche, relating the sickness to the sights and sounds that he

was subjected to.

In Pavlov’s experiments, his major goal was to prove that he could train a

subject to give a conditioned response with no reinforcement. This was

accomplished by training a dog to salivate when he heard a bell ring. The dog

was use to the sound of a ringing bell before receiving his food. Eventually,

Pavlov removed the food from the experiment, but the dog retained the

conditioned response of salivating whenever he heard the bell ring. Thus a

conditioned response without positive nor negative reinforcement. Alex’s

conditioned response was to fall to the “sickness” when subjected to Beethoven.

With the sickness being the conditioned response, there is no Reinforcement

because the sounds of Beethoven were not intentional, thus not needing

reinforcement.

However, Alex’s trauma could also be referred to as a Skinner approach to

treatment. Skinner’s theory was that one could achieve a conditioned response by

giving the subject positive or negative reinforcement. In his experiments, a

mouse was put in a cage with nothing but a pressable button and a light. When

the bar was depressed, the light flashed and food was delivered into the cage.

If the mouse were dropped into a similar cage, it would be safe to assume that

it would retain the reaction to hit a bar and receive food. The conditioned

response was to hit the bar when hungry. The reinforcement was the food that was

provided by completing the response. In Alex’s case, the reinforcement would be

the metal satisfaction of not going through with his violent needs when he is

subjected to violent surroundings.

In conclusion, the theories used as a basis behind Stanley Kubrik’s A

Clockwork Orange, resemble that of the theories that came from the greater

thinkers of modern time. Alex, the guinea pig in this tale, is a classic example

of many psychologist’s case studies, and could be analyzed differently from each.

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