Compare the methods used to present dysfunctional family relationship in the A Clockwork Orange and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Burgess and Williams present dysfunctional family relationship in A Clockwork Orange and A Streetcar Named Desire through detachment, betrayal and abandonment.
Dysfunctional family relationships within both texts is portrayed through detachment. In A Clockwork Orange Burgess’s childhood desire to have a mother and father role model is expressed through Alex’s disregard for his uninvolved parents. Critically, Davis states that “Alex’s lack of any functional family system in which he can interact with mature and fully realized adult selves manifests itself in his own hyper-exaggerated sense of pseudo-self”. This is shown through the theme of power, where Alex’s family nature deviates from the traditional family relationships, where he believes he has “thought them”. This suggests the lack of parental control his family have over Alex, their “only son and heir”. Burgess uses metaphoric qualities where “thine only son and heir” could emphasise the role of his parents shaping up Alex’s character not classed as significant since they are vulnerable to Alex’s violent occupations, clearly implying Alex’s family are of a weak structure where his parents refuse to challenge Alex’s behaviour. This metaphor could also suggest Alex’s lust for power as he has lived a childhood where he is regarded as a monarch, and fails to see any relevance to his parents participation in his life. Burgess emphasises detachment where youth will commit to anything in order to keep their hierarchy. He associates Alex’s parenting style with his own, absent and depraved, as their only concern is the protection for themselves individually, from the cruel society and “young hooligans”. Furthermore, Alex shows strong authority over his family as he “gave him a straight dirty glazzy, as to say mind his own and I’d mind mine”. This preconceived negativity and disbelief in successful, lasting family relationships affects the way Burgess, and Alex, developed socially, such as Alex’s behaviourism towards his droogs, seeing them only as his “unders” or the control Alex holds through the authorisation of power. Burgess uses dramatic irony where Alex easily bribes his father and leaves his family “with loving smiles all around”. On the whole, Burgess symbolism of “loving” is only repeated when Alex’s parents are described, suggesting the irony of the adjective “loving” as his parents show nothing but unconditional love. Similarly, in A Streetcar Named Desire, the portrayal of dysfunctional family relationships can be recognised with Williams own unhappiness within his family background due to the violent nature regarded with his father and his institutionalised sister. This suffering is reflected by Williams through the dysfunctional characters of Stanley and Stella through the theme of power. Williams uses animalistic imagery to represent Stanley as an angry controlling character who becomes easily irritated and abusive. For example, “animal joy in his beings is implicit in all his movements and attitudes” suggests Stanley’s predatory nature that could imply this is the way he lures women and deceits his men. Williams uses his indifference to show how he is dominating towards his wife through the symbolism of “Catch… Meat!” to Stella, suggesting his crude behaviour and symbolises the intense sex driven unity they share. Stanley’s character can be seen to model Williams’ father’s traits of “masculinity” and in a sense misogyny through his acts of abuse toward Stella. By Stella catching this “Meat” implies to the reader of his powerful status, where his barriers can be not be re-enforced by non-one. The detachment between Stanley and Stella is partially because of Stanley’s egotistical nature, only caring about himself and not distressing if he hurts anyone in the process. He “charges after Stella” when his status is obliterated being described as a “drunk-drunk animal mug”. This emphases the lack of power she has as a wife, suggesting there is no equality within their relationship, instead it is a relationship full of instability and dysfunctionality. However, it could be interpreted that Williams also suggests the obscureness reflected in their relationship as both characters cannot live without the other. For example, Williams reinforces that their relationship is driven by sexual intensity, where Stella believes “when he is away for a week, I nearly go wild”. It suggest the family relationship is bordering on madness- nothing but sexual pleasure to make “everything seem- unimportant”. The same characteristics can be seen through Stanley, where after his predatory attack on Stella, he cries “Sttteelllllllaaa”. Williams suggests that Stanley has no power to enforce upon, and without Stella he cannot be the true Alpha, seeming strange to the readers due their relationship reaching the highest peak of what a dysfunctional family relationship can be.
In addition, dysfunctional family relationships can be represented through abandonment and betrayal. In A Streetcar Named Desire. Williams shows the consequences of betrayal through the character of Blanche, where Miller, a critic stated “that Blanche DuBois’ fear of loneliness and abandonment is probably based on a disturbance of early object relationship”. This is shown by her aggression towards Stella, "I stayed at Belle Reve and tried to hold it together!". Williams symbolism of “Belle Reve” imitates Blanche's mental stability and how she tries to hold onto mental stability but fails. It suggests Blanche resents Stella’s departure and subsequent happiness. It implies her child-like behaviourism due to her inability to move on from the past. Williams expresses abandonment further through the use of war imagery, where in Blanche’s eyes Stella is “the one that abandoned Belle Reve, not I! I stayed and fought for it, bled for it, almost died for it”, degrading readers due to how Stella irresponsibly left Blanche alone to deal with their family in its time of distress, suggesting Stella is the main trigger to her sister’s downfall. The use of emotive language makes the audience almost sympathetic for Blanche’s past, suggesting a way for the audience to feel hatred for Stella by betraying her own family and in “bed with a – Polack!”. It implies dysfunctionality as both characters come from a Southern family that was at one time wealthy and respectable but has been gradually deteriorating over recent years. The knowledge that “Belle Reve? Lost” is symbolic of Stella’s and Blanche’s relationship, lost and fading away. This reflects Williams childhood, where his sister was institutionalised, leaving him feel abandoned to his brutal father. Williams want to emphasise the lack of communication these sister share, whilst most families mourn together after traumatic experiences, both Blanche and Stella are equally deluded by desire to make their past non-existent and live in a perfect world, rather than accept the truth and move forward. Blanche believes she “never was hard or self-sufficient enough… And I - I'm fading now! to emphasise the abuse of such a damaging, full of “death” life that has been forced upon Blanche. The metaphor suggests the lack of control she has over her instability, yet proves she has hardened over time due to desperation. The adjective “fading” represents the sisters vanishing away through abandonment from early childhood to Stella’s final act of betrayal, where she “couldn't believe her story and go on living with Stanley”. Williams shows that the once “gentle young women” who was viewed as passive is equally as deluded as Blanche for the betrayal of her own blood. Williams portrays a dysfunctunal family relationship by showing both characters have learnt nothing, they are equally as unfortunate because they embrace illusion over reality; where deceitfulness, desertion come into play in order to continue living a life full of “magic” and “not realism”. In the same way, Burgess in A Clockwork Orange the portrays dysfunctional family relationships through the Droogs and his parent’s betrayal. Burgess stated, “violence is more rewarding because it Is freer - there is no restraint and no control… a drive for freedom” to suggest the point that everyone is out for themselves, whether they be the police, government or citizens of the society. He represents this ideology by the Droogs abandoning Alex in order to be gain their freedom- using violence to cause destruction between the Droogs and Alex, implying their relationship was one of delusion and dysfunctionality. Alex is warned by his dream off the “very sharp and hard and was govereeting about discipline and obedience” Georgie. Burgess foreshadows Alex’s dream to reality where his Droogs want “new ways”, and the power struggle Alex is faced with. It reinforces the idea that even his Droogs, his family have recognised his cruel behaviour and rather desert away from Alex, even if it means through the authorisation of power. The Droogs use exaggeration, “we wanted to have things more democratic like. Not like you saying what to do and what not to do all the time” to emphasise that Alex is being surrounded by representation of his true nature, one where leadership and control no longer is effective and rather form a union- a democracy. The separation between pronouns “we” and “you” are used by Burgess to highlight the division between the obnoxious Alex and his “unders”, that his family are beginning to disassociate with Alex anymore, therefore their union fading away. It suggests to the readers the Droogs’ attack on Alex- implying the tension between the two equally deluded and destructive forces now opposing each other by an up rise. This can reflect the society Burgess lived through, a negative society that had too much freedom- loosing control through violence and destruction. However, even by his father trying to warn Alex he can no longer be an “heir” no more, where he “was like helpless in your own blood”, Alex fails to heed these warnings as he believes he is their “master and leader- sheep like”. Burgess use this simile to show Alex has no desire to compromise with the other characters and instead he is jealously preoccupied with re-establishing his power. He believes he has the authority to subjugate anyone into submission. This is ironic because it is his Parent and his Droogs who ultimately leave Alex alone and abandoned. Importantly, his determination to pull off the heist alone and reject social collaboration was what allowed his droogs to conspire against him and betray him. Burgess emphasises without one social support network, Alex loses his position within society as a whole and becomes a dysfunctional “clockwork”.