A Clockwork Orange and Modern Times

In his introduction to A Clockwork Orange, author Anthony Burgess writes that a human being without free will is “a clockwork orange… lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy wound up by… the Almighty State.” And in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, humanity of the 1930s Depression crusades in the pursuit of happiness, only to be consumed by the State’s mechanical contrivances and become more automaton than human. In the midst of these societies, a scientifically conditioned droog and a little tramp struggle against an increasingly impersonal world that threatens man’s free will and happiness.
When the State of ¬A Clockwork Orange disallows Alex his ability to exercise his free will, he “ceases to be a man.” Before undergoing an experimental reclamation program, Alex, commits many acts of ultraviolence alongside his droogs. After our “humble narrator” becomes “a murderer now,” the State imprisons Alex and attempts to “cure” him of his violent tendencies with the Ludovico Technique, which causes Alex to lose his free will and be impelled toward the good. A harmless citizen, after his release, Alex can no longer defend himself against the world, and he ultimately attempts suicide, though he only injures himself. After the public learns the suffering the State has caused Alex, the State reverses the effects of the experiment and restores Alex’s malicious nature. He becomes “cured all right,” and is again able to enjoy “the glorious Ninth” without any pain.
In a machine-driven world, Chaplin’s little fellow also finds himself at odds with authority in his “pursuit of happiness.” On the assembly line, the tramp’s repetitive job ultimately consumes him— literally when he is swallowed down the conveyer belt— and he is driven mad. “Cured” in the hospital, the little fellow finds himself in a chaotic world and is arrested for accidentally leading a Communist demonstration. Although life in jail is safe and comfortable for the little fellow, he...