A Clockwork Orange
Played by Malcolm McDowellA young hoodlum and the antihero of the film. Murderously aggressive and also good-natured and innocent, Alex is both horrible and likable. He commits numerous acts of brutality. He speaks in a slang influenced by Russian, Slavic, Gypsy, Shakespearean English, rhymes, and baby talk, and he addresses the audience directly as “my brothers and only friends.” He loves classical music, particularly Beethoven, though the music elicits images of violence and depravity for him.
Played by Patrick MageeA famous writer and opponent to the ruling party. Holed up in his ultramodern home, Mr. Alexander writes books, deemed subversive by the government, about the need to protect the rights of the individual from the government. However, his concerns for the rights of the individual seem hypocritical when we see he is ready to use Alex as a pawn to topple the government, even if that means sacrificing Alex’s life. In the novel, Mr. Alexander is the character who introduces the phrase “a clockwork orange,” which derives from the East London Cockney saying, “as queer as a clockwork orange.” This phrase suggests something that looks natural and organic on the outside but that is artificial and mechanical on the inside. Mr. Alexander claims that the government treats human beings as if they were clockwork oranges—creatures who look human but who can be manipulated and directed as if they were robots.
Played by Michael BatesSports a small, Hitlerian mustache and walks and talks in a military style. The chief prison guard’s manner is so extreme that he becomes a humorous caricature of a prison guard, shouting short commands at Alex like “Shut your filthy hole, you scum.”
Played by Warren ClarkeOne in Alex’s gang of hoodlums. Dim is the biggest, dumbest, and most brutish of the four Droogs, and Alex describes him as a “mindless, grinning bulldog.” He becomes a policeman and uses his thuggish brutality to impose law and order.
Played by Carl DuerringThe doctor in charge of Ludovico’s Technique. Dr. Brodsky speaks in a calm voice and seems to maintain a scientific detachment at all times, even when Alex is experiencing the horrible illness associated with Ludovico’s Technique.
Played by Paul FarrellA man beaten up by Alex, who beats Alex up in turn. The tramp represents the youths’ lack of respect for their elders, as well as the breakdown of societal order. He calls for a return to law and order, though he himself is homeless and drunk.
Played by Clive FrancisThe young man who moves into Alex’s room when Alex goes to prison. The lodger is strapping, healthy, good-looking, and sanctimonious. He tells Alex with self-righteous indignation that he has made his poor parents suffer enough, and that he is not welcome back in his home. He tells him that he himself has become like the good son Alex never was.
Played by Michael GoverRuns the prison system and believes Ludovico’s Technique lets prisoners off too easily. The prison governor believes in an eye-for-an-eye style of punishment and thinks the state deserves to take revenge on violent youths.
Played by Miriam KarlinThe woman Alex goes to prison for murdering, and the one victim who fights back. When the cat lady sees Alex in her home, she doesn’t cower. Instead, she attacks him with a bust of Beethoven. She is wealthy, haughty, and unafraid, and she has filled her home with dozens if not hundreds of cats. Alex finds her in an exercise room, which she has decorated with modern, almost cartoonlike paintings of women in sexual and sadistic poses.
Played by James MarcusAnother member of Alex’s gang of hoodlums. Georgie tries to usurp Alex’s power within the gang at the beginning of the film. He too becomes a thuggish policeman.
Played by Aubrey MorrisAlex’s parole officer. Deltoid preaches to Alex about reforming his ways but seems to be an unsavory character himself. The first time we see him, he surprises Alex in his apartment. Alex is dressed only in his underwear, but Deltoid encourages him to sit down next to him on the bed while he warns him about not getting himself in trouble. Carried away by his own excitement, he grabs Alex’s testicles. He speaks in a whiny, high-pitched voice and ends many of his sentences with “Yes?” His mannerisms and behavior suggest the ineffectiveness of logic in understanding and addressing the causes of violence, as well as the ineffectiveness of adults who try to control rebellious youth.
Played by Godfrey QuigleyThe voice of tradition, he takes Alex under his wing while Alex is in prison. The prison chaplain preaches about good, evil, and freedom of choice, and he opposes the use of modern scientific methods to control human behavior. He is foolish and ineffective, preaching fire and brimstone to the convicts while they burp, fart, and leer. He also mistakenly believes in Alex’s act of sincere reform. However, he is one of the few people in the film who speak out against the power of the state.
Played by Sheila RaynorAlex’s mother, a well-intentioned but weak and weepy woman. Mum’s appearance is very fashionable, and throughout the film she wears leather jumpers of various bright colors, with her hair dyed to match. At the same time, she is old-fashioned, with her hair set in the kind of permanent preferred by older women. She works in a factory, an existence that contrasts with the wild and disorderly ways of her son. Her main response to Alex’s trouble is to break into tears.
Played by Madge RyanDr. Brodsky’s assistant and the doctor in charge of instructing Alex during his treatment. Like Dr. Brodsky, Dr. Branom tries to maintain a cool scientific detachment. However, her zealousness for reforming the prisoner shows through during some of her speeches about the need to cure him.
Played by Anthony SharpA high-ranking government official and the mastermind behind the plan to reform criminals using modern scientific methods. The minister of the interior is a suave politician concerned not with questions of morality but with “what will work” and what will keep his party in power. He dresses in elegant suits and speaks in a calm voice.
Played by Philip StoneAlex’s father, also well intentioned but weak. Toward the beginning of the film Dad seems as though he might stand up to Alex and ask him how he spends his evenings and whether he is getting into trouble, but then he fails to confront him. When Alex returns from prison, Dad is the one who tells him he can’t move back home. Instead of taking responsibility for this decision, he falls back on the excuse that he and Mum have made a contract with their new lodger and couldn’t possibly break it. At the end of the film, he comes to Alex full of sorrow and contrition for the way he treated him.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!