Analysis

What is a "clockwork orange?"

"--the attempt to impose upon man, a creature of growth and capable of sweetness, to ooze juicily at the last round the bearded lips of God, to attempt to impose, I say, laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this, I raise my swordpen--" 
               -F. Alexander, in Burgess's A Clockwork Orange p. 25

    The most prominent theme in A Clockwork Orange is the importance of free will.  The right for each person to choose right from wrong of their own is what makes a person human.  Whether you're Alex, who believes humanity to be evil, or F. Alexander, who believes humanity to be good--it is your own personal choice.  In A Clockwork Orange, the government is so corrupt that it turns to The Ludovico Technique to fix the dystopian society's problems.  While the Ludovico Technique is supposed to make society safer, in actuality it dehumanizes its subjects.  Alex is stripped of his ability to choose right from wrong after he is "reformed."  He has become "a clockwork orange."  In his
1987 prefatory note to "A Clockwork Orange: A Play With Music," Burgess explains the title, "[A clockwork orange is] 
an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odor, being turned into an automaton."  To strip one of their free will is a crime worse than any act of violence.  "Burgess puts the defense of the traditional view of morality as requiring the exercise of free will—the view that there is no good act without the possibility of a bad one—into the mouth of a careerist," writes Theodore Dalrymple in his 2006 article for The City Journal.  The following passage is an excerpt from Burgess's  introduction to the 1986 publication of the novella:

 "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 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 inhumane 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 sums this up very concisely.  This theme of moral choice is timeless.  In his essay "Juice from A Clockwork Orange," Burgess compares Alex to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, 

"And although he’s nasty, he’s also very human. In other words, he’s ourselves, but a bit more so. He has the three main human attributes—love of aggression, love of language, love of beauty. But he’s young and has not yet learned the true importance of the free will he so violently delights in. In a sense he’s in Eden, and only when he falls (as he does: from a window) does he become capable of being a full human being."  

As humans, we have free will, and that is a right that cannot be denied to us.  The Ludovico Technique represents the government's, or any authority figure's, interference with our personal liberties, and the dangers of these interferences. The battle of good versus evil is presented an innumerable amount of times in literature and cinema--but A Clockwork Orange puts a twist on this common theme.  Which is worse, chosen evil or forced good?  According to A Clockwork Orange, chosen evil is the lesser evil, because it demonstrates it allows us a choice.  If humans lose moral choice, they become machines.  Free will to choose between good and evil is the central theme and message in A Clockwork Orange.