Those who are only accustomed to reading traditional English will most definitely find this book to be a difficult read. Burgess is extremely generous with his use of colloquial language which, in this case, is more appropriate to a very small section of modern society. It takes a while to get used to but once you get the hang of the style this book proves to be very insightful and extremely dark in its humor. The humor is however not used for its own sake but rather to draw the reader into the world of the hero and his friends. Along with this well placed humor, Burgess adds intellectual elements to bring us even closer to the main character and his delinquent habits.
When it comes to challenging beliefs and norms, A Clockwork Orange is indeed in a league of its own. Burgess is not at all shying away from social and ethical questions which baffled intellectuals in his time as it does in ours. He does this however in a way that reflects on our own lives, might challenge the concept of the death penalty and with some clever arguments one might even give conventional punishment a run for its money.
Although many such powerful works has been used to support propaganda or even just spark it off, one should not attempt to use A Clockwork Orange to this end. Burgess has gone about in a clever way to tie all lose ends in this comic and yet dramatic story, which makes it hard to use it to any powerful external end. The book does not point in any specific direction. In a way it shows you both sides of the coin, the criminal and the victim, the crime and the punishment and then holds a mirror to your face. I might even go as far as to say it hints in the direction of John Rawls’ original position, but this is in no way a supported fact and mere speculation. If the values and ethics of a judiciary and correctional system do not interest you I would not advise this book. Although the story and the style are both very strong, I would have to say that it is only the tip of the iceberg.