Alex from A Clockwork Orange seems to be two different people living within the same body. As an extremely horrible human during the night raping and committing acts of ultra-violence. Where as during the day he is depicted as a more elegant man. This is shown through his words, his clothing and his overall attitude.
Alex doesn’t seem to show any real interest in being close to anyone in the film. He does interact with the boys in his gang but still it isn’t in the way of a male to male friendship but more of similar interests. Society seems to be against him due to his nightly activities. The only thing he seems to show any love for is his pet snake. Freud’s analyzation for a man’s closeness to a snake is that the person involved may be questioning his love towards women or maybe even questioning his sexuality. It seems he feels a certain closeness to his snake that makes him feel more like a man.
Throughout the film Alex finds himself in many situations where he is surrounded by graphic sexual scenes or some sort of phallic reference. One night after committing an act of ultra-violence he finds himself in the Karova Milk Bar. The bar is littered with sculptures and images of naked women in various sexual encounters. Many of which have fluffy and colorful hair. I feel this corresponds with Harlow’s experiments with monkey babies finding comfort in soft items when distressed.
I feel Alex finds comfort in the fluffy hair and soft environment the bar portrays. When he commits an act that puts him in distress he retreats to Karova to bring him comfort and satisfaction.
I believe Alex grew up in a broken home. Freud believed that the self-image of a man is shaped in his first five years of life. In the film it seems Alex’s parents show little to no interest in him and it seems they could have caused distress to him in his early life. It’s safe to assume Alex didn’t retrieve much love from his parents growing up. Freud also believed that if a child doesn’t receive the proper love from their mother they will find other means to replace the comfort the mother would have provided. I found that Alex’s comfort was the pleasure committing acts of ultra violence brought after a night on the town with his “Droogs”.
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I believe that as a child Alex witnessed either his mother being beat by his father or vise versa or even his parents beating on him numerous times. I feel this is a big reason Alex behaved the way he does throughout the film. Because according to Bandura’s finding a child imitates the action they view and believes it to be natural. Alex’s aggressive behavior against society is in direct result of this trauma and this trauma makes him believe all of the things he does in the world is a natural thing.
In a Freudian aspect this could explain why he commits most if not all of his aggressive acts. His actions directly relates to his hatred for his parents or his hatred for one more than the other.
Music seemed to be his salvation. The sounds of Ludwig Van Beethovan were used in a psuedo-Pavlov experiment to eliminate Alex’s love for chaos and violence. In the experiment Alex ingested a serum that induced a deathlike paralized state. While the serum was beginning to kick in he was bombarded by sights of ultra-violence and the sounds of Beethovan. This experiment left an impression on his psyche.
Alex’s trauma could also be referred to as an approach to a Skinner approach to treatment. Skinner’s approach was that one could condition a response by giving the person positive or negative reinforcement. In Skinner’s experiment 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. The conditioned response was to hit the lever when hungry. The reinforcement was the food that was provided by completing said response. In the case of Alex the reinforcement was the mental satisfaction of not committing acts when he was subject to surroundings that urged his violent tendencies
In conclusion Alex from A Clockwork Orange is a classic example of many famous psychologists’ case studies and could be analyzed differently by each. At the end of the day it seems he could be that of a psychopath and a serial killer but as the film progresses he goes through treatments to eradicate this behavior. It seems to have worked but in the very last scene it seems he is going back to his old ways and could eventually go back to the way he used to be meaning the treatment was only temporary.
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