Violence is the universal element in A Clockwork Orange. This violence is what formats plot, characterization and overall message in this particular novel. Violence, however, does not occur merely in literature. In our daily lives we are exposed to a disturbing amount of violence. One cannot avoid it, for it is present in all aspects of life. Therefore, in a sense, as violence shapes the structure of plot and characterization in literature, it also shapes the structure of our daily lives. There is not just one function of violence in our lives, just as there is more than one function of violence in A Clockwork Orange. The purpose of this essay is to show how Burgess used these different functions of violence in the story. In the following paragraphs I will discuss the functions of foreshadowing violence to come, free will, and the idea of original sin.
One of the functions of violence in A Clockwork Orange can be see as an attempt by Anthony Burgess to foreshadow violence in the future. Alex, the protagonist of this novel, is used by Burgess to help depict this ultra-violence. Alex is far from the typical juvenile delinquent. With his band of "droogs," or friends, Alex goes on a rampage of sadistic rape and violence. As the tale unfolds, the foursome rob a small shop, beat the owner and his wife unconscious and then undress the old woman for kicks. When the moon climbs to its peak, they get an ache for "the old surprise visit". Wearing masks, they storm a writer's home and beat him to a pulp, tear up his cherished manuscript, urinate in the fireplace and rape his wife while the author is forced to look on in horror. The following day, Alex, taking a break from school, lures two ten year old girls to his room, gets them drunk and rapes them while listening to Beethoven's Ninth. Everything from the way he talks to how he carries himself seems to be a direct rebellion against anything what society would consider moral or normal.