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The novel A Clockwork Orange written by Anthony Burgess and published in 1962 is a brilliant commentary on humanity and morality in our evermore controlling world. Burgess believes that the freedom to make moral choices is what seperates human beings from plant life and lower animals. He illustrates his beliefs on morality with his main character Alex. Alex is given freedom to make his own choices, and is able to see good and bad as both equally valid decisions. Once the state removes Alex’s right to make these moral choices he becomes nothing more then just a thing.
This novel uses elements such as the Christian idea of morality to further this point. Also Burgess uses his own creation, the language of Nadsat to further this point that our reality is subjective to our moral stances in this world. The language Brugess developed is the fashionable dialect amongst the teens of A Clockwork Orange. Deemed Nadsat by Burgess to reflect the Russian roots of its dialect, “Indeed, the word ‘nadsat’ actually comes from the Russian suffix for ‘teen’. ” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader).
Burgess developed the language of Nadsat after learning Russian for a trip he had been planning with his wife. This article explains the language as us elements of Anglo-American, but many of the words having Slavic roots. ”The language,nadsat, is explained by Blake Morrison in his introduction to the book as, ‘essentially Anglo-American … but many of the words are Slavic in origin,’. ” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader). This is a testament to Burgess’ ability to manipulate English and other origins of language to paint a picture and create an atmosphere with words.
Another example of Burgess utilization of vocabulary is in main character Alex’s name, that stems from a-lex which has means without law, a fair testament to his personality, and behavior, “Another interesting feature of the book, related to the language, is the meaning of Alex’s name, which comes from a-lex, which means without, or outside the law. ” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader). The language was developed to have certain effects on the reader, and put emphasis on the first person perspective in which this novel was written.
One of the effects the use of Nadsat has on the reader is creating a distancing feeling from reader to Alex and his story. This makes the reader feel like more of an outside observer to the happenings of this novel. However, dialect used like “O my brothers” creates a conflict effect to the effects of Nadsat, as it is inclusive as opposed to distancing. This gives the novel a feel that Alex is telling his story to you, a close friend, in a later more stable time in Alex’s life.
This article establishes recognition of this incongruous literary device, “the way in which Alex addresses us, quite often with the words ‘O my brothers. ‘ makes the story being told more personal, as it seems to be just us that Alex is talking to, and we are in receipt of an amazing story which is only being told to a chosen few. This use of language is incongruous to the use of the nadsat… ” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader). The trend of distancing through Nadsat is continued in the effect it has on dulling the violence and graphic content found throughout A Clockwork Orange.
Most of the context in which Nadsat is used contains discussions of ultra violent behaviors. This allows the reader to judge and observe Alex with only a vague understanding of the extent of his violent and sinister activities. This article illustrates this point with a quote from Burgess, the violence in the book is partially veiled, making it seem less shocking. As Burgess himself explained;’to tolchock a chelloveck in the kishkas does not sound as bad as booting a man in the guts. ‘” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader).
Another effect Nadsat has on the reader is that it helps differentiate the teenagers from mature adults, or furthermore, those who carry a similar ideology, or hold a similar understanding to main character, Alex, and those who do not. As Illustrated in this article, “In one way, however, Burgess’ use of the nadsat provides a useful reference point for us in figuring out who among the characters is a ‘teen’ and who is not. ” (What Effects Does the Language in A Clockwork Orange Have on the Reader). This point is also made by Alex in part three,”Oh, that,” I said, “is what we call nadsat talk. All the teens use that, sir. (A Clockwork Orange, 167). This article is an introduction to Brugess’ creation, Nadsat. It clarifies the roots and origins of the dialect found in a Clockwork Orange.
Explaining where Anthony Burgess found the inspiration to develop the dialect to represent the youth of his novel. Also it helps the reader understand the effects Burgess is trying to have on your perception of the story with the introduction of Nadsat. These understandings all furthers your understanding and immersion into the story and ideals behind the story A Clockwork Orange, which I think is one of the many reasons this great story carries such a cult following.