A Clockwork Orange Essay

Submitted By kimle11
Words: 1419
Pages: 6

In A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, protagonist Alex and his "droogs" use a confusing meshed language of English, Russian, and imaginary words that functions as more than just a way to tell the story. Within Alex's violent acts and the government's operations, the language used throughout the book is critical in understanding what Burgess wants to get across to readers. The language is measured by both the violence and maturity that Alex goes through. Ultimately, the simple function of telling the story becomes multifaceted with the way Burgess uses language and that can be seen in two significant ways: the first is internal, important to the violence within the story and to the growth of Alex and the second is extrinsic, the author giving his viewpoint on the themes introduced in the novel. Burgess’ use of the nadsat language is essential to A Clockwork Orange and the life of Alex. Alex’s strange style of speaking immediately sets the stage in the first few pages for what occurs throughout the rest of the novel. The skewed language is so bizarre and hard to understand that it is a parallel to the wacky occurrences and unexplained violence that ensues along the storyline. And although it may be hard for readers to understand exactly what is going on, Burgess makes it obvious enough through Alex’s narration of what is physically occurring. The violence coming from Alex and his group cannot be understood but readers can see that they are committing the crimes.
Eventually, the slang-filled language becomes familiar to readers. This growing comprehension of Alex’s style of speaking also parallels Alex’s growth away from violence, and towards maturity. As readers finally become comfortable with nadsat, Alex begins to outgrow his violent youth. An example that shows that Alex’s use of his slang is related to the violence is in the middle section of the novel, when Alex is in jail under government control where he can no longer partake in violent actions without being punished and is forcefully taught to speak normally. As he speaks without his slang, he no longer commits violent actions. After leaving the jail, nadsat catches up with him when he becomes frustrated with F. Alexander’s co-workers and he once again slips into violence. Alex’s use of nadsat has a close relation to violence and in the end, Alex decides to give up his aggression in order to move on with his life.
Along with the violence and rebellious attitude, the nadsat language is seen spoken only among the adolescents. The language itself becomes a symbol for teenagers because Burgess makes it clear that the idiom is only spoken by the reckless teenagers and thus clearly separates the youth from the adults. Near the end of the novel, Burgess makes it clear that the language goes away with maturity. The language that unites Alex and his “droogies” is what, in the end, defines the limits between who has moved on to important life goals and who is still in his youth. Pete, one of Alex’s old friends and accomplice of malevolent deeds, allows for Alex to realize that he must grow out of his old habits because Pete is no longer speaking in nadsat. To point it out even more, Pete’s wife snickers at Alex for the way he talks. This allows for Alex to realize that he is “getting too old for the sort of jeezny I had been leading…” Even in the real world, teens are known to be rebellious and like in the book, they have words that adults sometimes do not catch on to. For example, new music for the younger generations has a plethora of new slang words that teens use daily while adults fail to understand. This goes hand in hand with the idea that language is a defining characteristic that separates the youth from the adults. In the final chapter, Alex realizes for his own sake that he has out-grown his language.
Nadsat is not the only language, however, that has significance on the story line. Alex’s hard time understanding the Minister of the Interior because of his…