A Comparison of A Clockwork Orange and 1984 In futuristic literature one often encounters political systems that dominate and oppress. In George Orwell’s 1984 and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, government control uses various methods to force the citizens to conform.
Brain washing was used for a common purpose in both stories, to forget and change the characters past actions. In A Clockwork Orange, brain washing was used after Alex had committed all his crimes, as a method of treatment for his violent tendencies. When Alex would cry for them to stop the horrible films, that he was forced to watch, Br. Brodsky said “We have to be hard on you, you have to be cured.” (Burgess,86) This experimental treatment was being used full force, Alex being the gini pig.
The Charlie warned Alex before singing him up that “It’s only in the experimental stage at the moment. It’s very simple but very drastic.”(Burgess, 67) Alex’s treatment turned out to be “successful” in the doctors eye’s. He was cured of all his violence, left to the brutality of society that he could no longer deal with. In 1984 brain washing was a non-stop method of control used 24 hours everywhere Winston would go.
He and Alex were lead to a similar fate. Although the constant attempt by Big Brother to have total control over all citizens of Ociania by propaganda and telescreens did not work on Winston, the torture and room 101 let him understand “double think” and learn to love Big Brother. Big Brother could make him believe anything, “Then almost without a pause he wrote: two and two make five.”(Orwell,239) A the end of 1984 Winston believed “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”(Orwell,256) Propaganda and brain washing can have positive and negative results on a society, both are presented in these novels. No matter what the result on society, the outcome on the person is always harmful. In 1984 Winston became compliant to the government and the rest of society.
Any rebellion or self-control that Winston had was forced out of him by the brain washing and propaganda. Winston and Julia always said, “What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you- that would be real betrayal.” (Orwell, 136) They went in to room 101 knowing they would confess but saying they would never stop loving each other, “They can’t get inside you.” (Orwell, 136) They were wrong. After the government was done with them they had no love for anything but Big Brother. By the government achieving this, they eliminated any chance of Winston or Julia rebelling against them. This therefore diminished the hope that any rebellion would occur to save the disciplined society. The opposite was true in A Clockworks Orange Alex had love like he had never experienced before. Alex had become so desensitized as a child that he could commit horrible crimes with no remorse what so ever.
“That was disgusting so we have him the boot, one go each, and then it was blood, not song nor vomit, that came out of his filthy old rot. Then we went on our way.” (Burgess,15) In fact Alex found enjoyment in others pain caused by himself. His treatment therefore made him fit societies standards in a positive way, whereas Winston fit society in a negative way because they took something away that could have helped society.
In both books drugs were used by the government to control people and patients. The citizens of Ociania were drugged constantly. Every thing they put in their mouth was controlled by the government. To eat anything else was against the law. Each social class had their own food and drink they could consume. Winston was not an important person in the governments eyes so he did not get high quality possessions. “He took a cigarette form a crumpled packet marked VICTORY CIGARETTES and incautiously held it upright, whereupon the tobacco fell out on to the floor.”(Orwell,10) The important government officials not only had the power to turn off their telescreens, which were a constant source of brainwashing, but they could also eat and drink high quality, normal food.
“It’s Inner Party coffee. It’s all Inner Party stuff. There’s nothing those swine don’t have, nothing.”(Orwell,125) Once arrested Winston was drugged by O’Brien so as to be more susceptible to ideas. “Winston could not remember whether it was in drugged sleep, or in normal sleep a voice murmured in his ear: Don’t worry I shall save you, I shall make you perfect.”(Orwell, 210) Drugs were used in the same manner in A Clockwork Orange before being taken to watch the horrible films he would be shot with drugs so that the film would affect him faster. “After every meal we shall be giving you a shot in the arm.”(Burgess,78) “Now all the time I was watching this I was beginning to get very aware of a like not feeling all that well, and this I put down to the under-nourishment and my stomach not quite ready for the rich pishcha and vitamins I was getting here.”(Burgess,82) Drugs caused both these characters to be manipulated at the hands of their oppressors to mold them to fit their totalitarian ways.
These two pieces of literature are perfect examples of political systems that dominate and oppress. Both use various forms of brain washing to create a certain type of person that will conform to the society they have created. The novels also show the impact that brain washing and propaganda have on the society and what it takes away from the individual.
Although these stories are not mirror images of our civilization in this day and time, it is not difficult to associate some of the ideas presented in these two book to what we have, and to what is to come.