At first glance it certainly seems that Burgess uses unnecessary imagery and descriptions of an extraordinary length in order to glorify violence. One only needs to count the times the word “krovvy” is used, or how many “tolchocks” are given. Even the Russian word for “good” has been corrupted to have violent undertones: “horrorshow” sounds as if it could be a description of this entire novel. In addition, the use of music – pieces of music that are considered as masterful works of art – seems to turn the violence into an art form as well.
Not content with this, Burgess also employs complex choreography to fortify this image. One feels that the entire novel could be turned into a ballet – and this is clearly glorification. But if one analyses the purpose of the glorification, one can see why it is a necessary ingredient in the book. While the violence is always exaggerated, it is clear that it always contains either a moral message or a comment on society, whether it is ours, Burgess’ or Alex’s One can quote numerous examples. The attack on the “prof-type chelloveck” is a comment on literature and its status.
The attack on the old cat woman and her response could be commenting on gender or age, but it is also significant that she is from “Oldtown” – she is of the old world – in other words, our world. And the murder of the prisoner is a comment on the question of punishment. It is also worth noting that all of these “victims” become, or were, attackers themselves. This brings us to Alex. There are two distinct Alex characters in the book: during the first half he is the perpetrator; during the second half he is the victim.
If one were to simply read the first half of the novel and leave the rest, one would certainly wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that the novel glorifies violence, for no apparent purpose. Alex, as the protagonist and the narrator, depicts the violence in his way – he enjoys it, so he tries to make the reader see it that way, too. But if one has read the whole novel one can make a more balanced evaluation. Alex as the victim is very different from the other Alex. He is still the protagonist; he is still the narrator. Yet all glorification is gone: no choreography, no music.
The violent is entirely repulsive – to us as it is to Alex. We feel for Alex – we can imagine what he goes through. And this is what is important. While Burgess starts out glorifying violence, he does it with a distinct end in mind: he wants us to be even more repulsed during the second half of the novel, so that he can get his message across. In reality, the second half completely negates the effect of the first half. Therefore, although I agree with the assertion that Burgess glorifies violence in the book, I do not believe that he glorifies it in his mind, or that he intends to glorify it in ours.