Free will, morality and destiny, these are all concepts that people have been debating for thousands of years. In A Clockwork Orange and Candide these topics are addressed at length and make up the bulk of discussion throughout the novels. Candide is the story of a man trying to find his way in an unfamiliar world after having been kicked out of his home. A Clockwork Orange is about a teenager who commits a murder and is then selected for a treatment allowing early release from prison. The two are good examples of a philosophical tale and are thematically similar, except that they differ in the final moral message. The final line in Candide “That is well said, but we must cultivate our garden.” (Voltaire 96) can be interpreted as we must improve our world, whereas in A Clockwork Orange this line “But now as I end this story, brothers, I am not young, not no longer, oh no. Alex like growth up, oh yes.” (Burgess 198) shows that it is about personal growth. The similarities between that two, however, are much greater, focusing on the theme: there are limits to human free will. Candide and A Clockwork Orange both show free will exists, but differ in how they show the limitations upon free will.
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Firstly, in Candide, existence of free will is shown mainly through the philosophical exchange between characters. “”All this is for the very bestâ€¦” said Pangloss. A little dark man spoke up “Apparently the gentleman does not believe in original sin; for, if all is for the best then there has been neither fall nor punishment.” “I very humbly beg Your Excellency’s pardon, for the fall of man and the curse necessarily entered into the best of possible worlds.” “Then the gentleman does not believe in free will?” “Your Excellency will excuse me, free will can coexist with absolute necessity, for it was necessary that we should be free; for after all, predetermined willâ€¦”. (Voltaire 13-14) This is one of the most important dialogues illustrating how Leibnitz optimism (that all is for the best) reconciles the existence of free will with the use of the Judeo-Christian origin myth. Pangloss’ stance is that after original sin human beings were sent to the best of all possible worlds, the man he’s talking to asked how we can have free will if this is so, and so Pangloss replied that it is necessary to have free will in order to be in the best of all possible worlds.
Secondly, in A Clockwork Orange, it is shown that being human requires having free will, “A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man.” (Burgess 168). A couple of views are shown, those of Alex and F. Alexander and also of the government. The protagonist (although not a hero) Alex believes that everyone is born, to some degree, with an innate evilness, but we choose what we do. “More, badness is of the the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radostyâ€¦ But what I do I do because I like to do.” (Burgess 47), evil is instinctive (because of God), but we make our own choices. F. Alexander in polar opposition believes that all are born good or as a tabula rasa (blank slate) and are spoiled by society and culture.
Limitations on free will are shown in Candide through the impossibility of circumstances, which we can call destiny. Sure man controls his own will, but he certainly cannot control everything, for example the actions of others and those of God. Candide was about to be executed when the King passing by freed him, he is shipwrecked and then stuck in an earthquake, he finds out all the people he thought were dead are still alive, etc. these are some of the many events which Candide had no control over, but he had the freedom to choose how to act in these situations. And, in the end, Candide says “we must cultivate our garden” (Voltaire 96); improve our world, since we have free will.
Lastly, in A Clockwork Orange destiny is also a limitation, but in a different way. There are things that we cannot change, for example: birth – where, when, to whom, genetics, etc. It is shown how the environment that Alex grew up in has shaped who he is as a person and since a person is the sum of their experiences, which start off as out of their control (birth, childhood, etc.), it can be said that he is not entirely responsible for his actions. Another limitation is thought manipulation. You are what you think is an adage that sums this up and if you can’t control what you think or feel you therefore cannot control your actions and do not have free will. This is shown in A Clockwork Orange with the Ludvico Technique; Alex is conditioned to experience extreme pain and discomfort when he has violent or other “evil” (as determined by the government) thoughts. Forcibly doing good is portrayed as being worse than choosing evil “It may not be nice to be good, little 6655321. … It may be horrible to be good. And when I say that to you I realize how self-contradictory that sounds. I know I shall have many sleepless nights about this. What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him? Deep and hard questions, little 6655321.” (Burgess 105) and good is explained as being meaningless without the presence of evil, without a choice being made “â€¦ by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange-meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State. It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities. “(Burgess 4).
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Both Candide and A Clockwork Orange posit the existence of free will. They both also show limitations on it, but have different limitations. Candide’s limitations are those of destiny and A Clockwork Orange’s are those of destiny and manipulation. In Candide, through highly improbable situations, we are shown that there is a lot we cannot control, even though we have free will. In A Clockwork Orange destiny is shown, but as things we cannot choose like birth, and manipulation is the moulding of thoughts and feelings and therefore behaviour. In Candide the moral message is that free will should be used, we should act rather than romanticize because nobody else is going to. In A Clockwork Orange it is shown that since people have free will they also have a chance at redemption, no matter how rotten they may be, and that by taking away free will they lose that chance.
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