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Anti Hero in a Clockwork Orange

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Hebechenchen
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Introduction

It was the year of 1516 when Utopia was brought into being by Sir Thomas Moore, and from then on to the 19th century, utopian fiction has experienced a development and a dramatic turn into just the opposite tone, dystopian. These two distinctive streams in British literature, with a same distant source, contain totally different settings—if the utopian novels have demonstrated the perfectly idealized future society for mankind, then the dystopian ones describe the least ideal society, and it is usually considered that a dystopia

is the vision of a society in which condition of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain.1

As material civilization develops into a certain level and can be considered as more than sufficient, then the world is superior to spiritual civilization; however human spirit is the reflection and is controlled by the substances. So, in a highly-developed society with rich material life and high technology, human spirit indeed has no real freedom. Of course, flooding modernized technologies provide human beings a better living condition, but they are covering up an empty and weak spiritual world. Human beings are made to be squeezed to become the flat and instrumental existence surround by machines which makes them feel it is a perfect world. It is obvious that this point contains a positive function in terms of political reality. Although, the political principles of dystopia are also based on utopian ideals, they result in negative consequences for inhabitants because of at least one fatal flaw. And because of this certain fatal flaw, dystopia is to make people think about the society and to see how the ideas of happiness can be wrong. Dystopian novels, in general, depict a protagonist who comes to realize something wrong about the society, something can be considered as a fatal flaw; and this protagonist becomes a person who questions the society where he live in and challenges the current situation what the others take for granted. But such a rebellious character cannot be categorized as traditional hero due to the lack of some traits as nobility or virtue. This kind of protagonist is usually considered flawed. And this kind of characters is commonly considered as anti-hero “who lacks the qualities of nobility and magnanimity expected of traditional heroes and heroines in romance and epics.”2 As the classical hero is larger than a real person, an anti-hero is a protagonist who is as flawed or more flawed than most characters, he is someone “who disturbs the reader with his weakness that are sympathetically portrayed, and who magnifies the frailties of humanity”.3 Often, the primary characteristic of anti-hero is that they may hold a suspicious view of the traditional social values, and that’s cause of their unorthodoxy and acting in ways contrary to society’s standards. This is an important point because an anti-hero usually reflects society’s confusion or ambivalence about morality when the established value system collapses. And this collapse leads another characteristic of an anti-hero—loneliness, as the result of the lack of communication with others and the society. Because of the doubt about the society and the denial of everything, they are jailed in loneliness, and they are attempting to pursue something that can help them get rid of this loneliness. This kind of pursuit is out of personal intentions, but in terms of consequences, it is given a significance of the society and the age. When we come to the anti-heroes in dystopian novels, the distinctive setting of the story endows dystopian anti-heroes with rebellious but sensitive “advanced” characteristics. A perfect example can be found in the novel Nineteen Eight-Four, in which the protagonist Wisdom Smith, as an individual with the same independent sense, suffers all possible mental or physical tortures a strong group with a totalitarian system can exert4, but whose spiritual isolation from the others resulted in his potential wish and tendency to get out of and finally rebel against the society—Oceania. And if Wisdom Smith can be considered as the last intellectual of his society who rebels against the whole social-legal-political system with his intellectuality,another dystopian protagonist Alex in A Clockwork Orange is an anti-hero who appears under the cover of a villain who robs, rapes, and ultimately murder for his own amusement. So, Alex rebels against the society in a violent way. However, despite the ways of rebellion, these two anti-heroes share certain typical anti-hero’s traits in common: they are both flawed; they are sensitively uncomfortable with the surroundings around and the social system which lead to their revolting, while finally their rebellions are suppressed by the ruling class and social regime. So, as their efforts to revolt against the traditional values turn out to be fail, then we can regard their alien ideas, subsequent disobedience or rebellions as a kind of heterogeneous existence according to George Bataille, a French philosopher and sociologist. If we take a look at Bataille’s The Psychological Structure of Fascism, we can know about the idea that there are two different kinds of social existence: the homogeneous one signifies “the commensurability of elements and the awareness of this commensurability” (Bataille 56), while the heterogeneous one indicates that it “concerns elements which are impossible to assimilate, and this impossibility which has a fundamental impact on social assimilation”(Bataille 68). And in Bataille’s opinion, the rule and the law of a certain state often depends on the homogenous order while the internal heterogeneous element is often aroused by nature. And this hard-to-assimilate element will lead to human beings’ anti-heroic behavior, and even a rebellion against the outside world where they live in. So, this thesis will employ Batailler’s theory of heterogeneous and homogeneous to make a full analysis about Alex’s anti-hero characteristics in A Clockwork Orange—what makes him into a state of fighting against the society and how they suffered from being heterogeneous in a homogeneous society in an elaborately structured dystipian setting.…...

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