Alex DeLargeBy Josh BerezAlex.jpeg

Biography


Alex DeLarge is an eighteen-year-old character in the novel turned movie A Clockwork Orange. He is the head of his gang of “Droogs” Peter, Georgie, and Dim. The gang often spends their time getting high off narcotic laced milk, and causing all sorts of trouble. Alex leads the gang into numerous robberies, rapes, and other acts of violence for his own amusement, which Alex coins “ultra-violence”. He also has a love for classical music, particularly Ludwig Van Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony, which is played through his recurrent fantasies of “ultra-violence”, just before going to sleep, and other times through out the movie. He has two parents, which appear very passive and unaware to his violent activities and school tardiness. Alex rules his gang with an iron fist, and even when one of the members (Georgie) rises up against him, he strikes down with violence, proving that they obey him “or else”. This comes back to bite him, when one night during a robbery, his gang turns against him, injuring him, and leaving him to be found by the police. Alex ends up in prison, where he learns about the Ludovico Treatment. Seeing it as his only way out, he does anything possible to be a candidate for the treatment, and succeeds. The movie follows him through the trials and tribulations after the treatment, which conditions him to get sick when he tries to do anything violent. Some memorable quotes which sum up his character would be “What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent” and “And the first thing that flashed into my gulliver was that I'd like to have her right down there on the floor with the old in-out, real savage.”


Perspective 1: Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Approach of Personality


Sigmund Freud founded the Psychoanalytic Approach of Personality, which focuses on three aspects of the mind; the ID, Ego, and Superego. The ID acts on the pleasure principle, seeking to avoid pain and trying to attain pleasure. It is the most unconscious, instinctual, and primordial part of the mind. The Superego deals with societal norms and morals, and tries to direct our actions to be socially acceptable and as close to perfection as possible. The Ego deals with reality, and takes both the needs of the ID and the morals and social norms of the Superego into account, and tries to satisfy them both, making sense of each and figuring out what is best in a given situation. Freud believed in what he called the Psychosexual Stages of development, which followed the development of a child’s psyche into adulthood by five stages. If a stage was not completed, there would be a consequence in failing to complete a stage, which was called a fixation. The libido, which Freud defined as each person’s psychosexual energy, caused the tension for our daily motivations and drives, which could also contribute to completing or not completing each stage. He also developed free association, which was a method into a person’s unconscious, where he usually looked at content of dreams to figure out what a person’s unconscious desires and motivations were. The latent content of dreams told him the hidden, subconscious meaning of the person’s dreams, which would account for a person’s manifestation of mental illness, disorder, or unconscious desires and impulses.


Sigmund Freud would assess Alex DeLarge as having a large ID and a small Superego, which left the Ego to fail to control the impulses of the ID and grasp the social norms and morals of society of the Superego. Alex has such a small superego, that when he looks at a situation, he immediately succumbs to the impulsive nature of the ID, which in his case is violence, and fails to grasp the social norms and morals of what the rest of society would do. If he wants money, he robs someone. If he wants sex, he rapes. His pleasure principle controls his actions, and the Ego cannot effectively control the balance between the two. This type of impulsive behavior is seen through out the movie, including when he decided to beat up a poor man “for fun” in the beginning of the movie, and plays “hogs of the road” where he runs cars off the road for laughs, seriously injuring other people and damaging their motor vehicles. These actions would be deemed unacceptable by society, but the weakness of the Superego leaves him to follow through while having little to no thought of the morals of his actions.


Freud might say that Alex has not completed the Phallic stage of his Psychosexual Stages of development. This happens from about three to six years old, where the pleasure is focused on the genitals and masturbation and sexually attraction is focused on the opposite sex-parent, which is called the Oedipus complex. Alex would have to deal with castration anxiety in this stage as well. Because Alex has not completed this stage, he is left with the fixation, which in his case is his inability to love, and narcissism, which is prevalent through out the movie. Alex is the leader of his gang, and rules by violence and fear. He sees himself as the best leader, and if anyone should say otherwise, he strikes down with violence and vengeance. He also has an inability to love, clearly though his behavior with women, as he has no remorse in raping them. His libido remains stuck on the genitals, and because he cannot make any meaningful relationships or connections with other women, he rapes them in order to receive his sexual gratification. Freud might also analyze the latent content of his dreams and constant fantasies of “ultra-violence” saying that the constant violence seen in his dreams and fantasies represents his feelings of anger and hatred of his father for his castration anxiety, and for the ability to love and sexually satisfy his mother.


Perspective Two: Gordon Allport’s Big Five Personality Traits


Gordon Allport defined personality as “the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought.” He thought that each person had unique qualities, but through the use of Idiographic methods (diaries, Q-sorts, interviews, etc) he was able to narrow down qualities to five distinct characteristics, which make up the proprium, or core of personality. The Big Five is made up of Extroversion, Agreeableness, Contentiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. These five traits were created through extensive factor analysis, are relevant across all cultures, and backed up by data to support Allport’s theory. The Big Five has also been proven to be a good predictor of important life outcomes.


The first trait of the Big Five is extroversion. Extroverts often make good politicians or leaders. They know how to take hold of a situation, and can adapt to control and forge ahead. This trait is often confused with how social a person can be, but it still encompasses sociability as well. Alex DeLarge would score very high in extroversion. He leads his group of “Droogs”, and is often the center of the gang’s tirades of violent acts. Even when he is put in prison, he plots a way out, and never deters from his plan. He is often seen in the movie chatting it up with whomever he comes into contact with, and might be seen as arrogant, cocky, and the center of attention. His extroversion holds true through out the entire movie, even after his encounter with the Ludivico Treatment, when he is talking about making a deal with the government at the end of movie for being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. He seems very aware and adaptable and is able to take charge of any situation he is put into for his benefit.


The next trait in the Big Five would be agreeableness. In Alex DeLarge’s case, he would not score very high in this category. The agreeableness trait examines a person’s altruistic self. This tends to include modesty, humility, friendliness, and trustworthiness. Although he appears friendly and can make conversation with anyone, this is just a mask of his true self. He might feel like what he does is altruistic and helping for the greater good, this is where the true disconnect lies in his personality. He truly is not a friendly person, and puts on a show to get people to believe that he is, even to his gang. They tried to rise up against him, and he struck down with violence in order to control them with fear. He also used fear to control his victims of rape, and murder. He is the very opposite of altruistic, and only seeks “the ultra-violence”. He realizes this when he tries to go back to his gang after his treatment, where Georgie and another member of a once-rival gang, who have become police officers, beat him for revenge.


The third trait of the Big Five is conscientiousness. This trait deals with self-discipline, hard-working, and achievement. Alex DeLarge would consider himself to be all of these, but one might think otherwise. Alex never goes to school. One can imagine that his academic achievement is very low. He doesn’t have a real job, and earns his money by committing crimes. He is also very poorly self-disciplined, and lets his impulsivity get in the way of what he should be doing as an eighteen-year-old, young-adult. He spends most of his time at the bar getting high off narcotic-laced milk, and causing mayhem. He has to “relearn” conscientiousness in his treatment where he is forced to look at movies of horrific images, and is given an injection that makes him feel sick. Over time, he is conditioned to feel sick whenever he encounters violence, or any negative behavior or thinking.


The next trait in the Big Five is neuroticism. This is defined as being impulsive, lacking emotional stability, and is often associated with negative outcomes. Alex would score very high in this trait, and is a staple of his true nature. Alex is very impulsive, and does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He forces people off the road while driving, just for fun. He beats up a rival gang, and commits numerous robberies and rapes. He sees everything he does as a good thing, which proves just how pervasive his disordered thinking is. He gets the Ludovico treatment specifically to teach him that what he does is not right, and he has to relearn that violence is wrong. This neuroticism is shown though out the whole movie, even after his treatment. Alex is driven mad by the association of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Ludovico treatment he was given, when the husband of the woman he killed traps him in his room, blasting the music. He jumps out the window to end his life, which ultimately fails, and when waking up in the hospital, realizes that the head trauma he experienced from the fall has made the response from the Ludovico treatment disappear, and immediately beings to fantasize about women and destruction, just as he had in the beginning of the movie.


The last trait of the Big Five is openness, and is commonly associated with having a big imagination, being creative, and being open to new experiences. Alex would probably score pretty high in this category. He is very open with his sexuality, particularly during one scene where he brings two girls home with him from the music store, and proceeds to have sex with both of them. He also constantly fanaticizes about violence and women and ways that he can accomplish things. He is very creative, and comes up with elaborate schemes to rob and commit acts of violence against people. He also came up with ways to get him noticed in prison to be a candidate for the Ludovico treatment, which went to extreme extents such as participating in religious readings with a priest and interrupting the Warden of the prison during a “line-up”. The infamous scene, in which he breaks into a couples house, has his Droogs tie up the husband and hold the wife so he can cut her clothes off her, as he sings “Singing in the Rain”, really shows his creativity of elaborate schemes and a creative, ultimately sick, mindset.


Discussion


Examining Alex Delarge from a Psychoanalytic approach and Allport’s Big Five give us a greater in-depth look into the manipulated, sadistic, and neurotic mind, and allows us insight into what drives these motivations and desires. Through the Psychoanalytic approach, its clear that Alex’s ID overpowers his ego and superego, which could be because he is fixated in the Phallic stage of Freud’s Psychosexual stages of development. His constant actions and fantasies of violence could be an unconscious hatred for his father and mothers intimacy, which he fails to have with anyone. Classical music, which Alex adores, could be a defense mechanism and serves as a way to repress those feelings of hatred and jealousness and re-enforces his love for “the ultra-violence”. Scoring high on Neuroticism, Extroversion, and Openness gives us a clear look into how these three traits affect the way he is, and supports his behavior of taking control, being violent, creativity and imagination. In the future, Alex could have a very hard time making any intimate connections with anyone due to his non-agreeability and lack of conscientiousness. His neurotic behavior and extroversion would continue to lead him to control people, mainly by fear and power. I would go as far as to say that due to his personality traits, it wouldn’t be long that he be incarcerated and in prison again.


References


List of characters. Description. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_(A_Clockwork_Orange) 11/26/2011


Movie Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066921/quotes 11/26/2011


Picture. Retrieved from
https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&cp=9&gs_id=w&xhr=t&q=alex+delarge&tok=hS_kyeNsQRtzE5Ow7lKJrg&safe=off&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1380&bih=731&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi#q=alex+delarge&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&tbs=isz:m&tbm=isch&source=lnt&sa=X&ei=HHzQTqnEKejz0gGm2JRE&ved=0CA4QpwUoAg&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=d9e232e43a58388&biw=1380&bih=731 11/26/2011