AS English Literature EXAM

These cards are revision notes for A Clockwork Orange and Brighton Rock


AO's that are assessed in Texts part of the exam

AO1:   50 Minutes should be spent on these

  • Making an argument- expressing ideas well
  • Using appropriate terminology
  • Creative and informed relavent response
  • Use own ideas and be clear


  • Explore aspects of Language, Structure and Form
  • How  do they shpae the meanings of literacy texts
  • In depth analysis
  • Detailed critical understanding
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Brighton Rock- Key themes- Detective novel/thrille

Religion- Heaven and Hell (Links with damnation), who can be trusted. Catholics "are more in touch with the devil than other people"

Men and Masculinity- Pinkie and his gang (all males) they have power

Irony- Used to cover  things up. Pinkie is a Christian yet he is involved in gangs and violence.

Adolesence- Pinkie is a teenager yet he is shown to be someone who is older, and someone with no thought for others.

Women- Used and abused, lack of women also shows male dominace

Free Will- Pinkie belives he can do what he wishes.

Music- Emphasises the surrounding, cheap music.

Violence- Pinkie loves violence. Gangs, razor blades  

Human relationships- lack of respect for women in society, negativity.

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Brighton Rock key quotations

Section 1:

"The crowd as it uncoiled endlessly past him like a twisted piece of wire, two by two, each with a sober and determined gaiety" P4

"His young ancient poker-face told nothing..."

"An eye for an eye. If you believed in God, you might leave vengeance to him, but you couldn't trust the one universal spirit. Vengeance was ida's just as much as the rewards was Ida's"

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Key quotations

Section 2

"The boy went to his bed and swept off the crumbs of Cubbit's saugage roll" p.55

"With the gold lighter in his pocket...he looked as a man might look who owned the world" p.67

"It hissed like steam"

"She emerged like a mole into the day light..."p.51

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Key quotation

Section 3:

"Moving her mind on its axis like a great steel dredger"

"The poison twisted in the boys veins. He had been insulted"

"The frightened weekly exercise of his parents which he watched from his single bed"

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Key quotations

Section 4:

"He crouched in the corner...vibrating up and down in his bitter virginity" p.109

"She rose formidably and moved across the restaurant like a warship going into action" p.117

"One day-One day-he limped along the sand with his bleeding hand hidden, a young dictator" p.129

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Key quotations

Section 5:

"The hunt was what mattered" p.164

"The game of which  they all know so much more than he did" p.144

"This was what people called pleasure-this and the game" p. 145

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Key quotations

Section 6 :

"She was soft, she was dumb, she was sentimental- and then suddenly she was dangerous"

"...touched by the sense of communication between himself and Rose- she too knew this evening meant nothing at all, that there hadn't been a wedding"

"God damn you, you little *****, why can't you go back home forever and let me be?"

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Key quotations

Section 7:

"It's like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you'll still read Brighton. Thats human nature"

"I suppose I'm real Brighton, as if his single heart contained all the cheap amusements, the Pullman cars, the unloving weekends in gaudy hotels, and the sadness after coition"

"An enormous emotion beat on him; it was like something trying to get in; the pressure of gigantic wings against the grass"

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Character analysis- Pinkie Brown

  • Unhappy childhood, parents 'sexual ritual'
  • Known as Pinkie and the boy, is a 'frail' seventeen year old gang leader. Pinkie's catholic background haunts him with a growing sense of his eternal damnation, he still wildly hopes for repentance and salvation.
  • Pinkie pretends to be attracted to Rose to have her conciel the details of the crime. Even though Pinkie is disgusted by the act of sex of physical attarction.
  • His language is functional just like his actions
  • Vivid descriptions of Hell and damnation
  • Lots of imagery around Pinkie
  • Mysogynist "He held intamacy back as long as he could at the end of a razor blade". Highlighting his immaturiy and how he is a young boy, not a man. Also that his past has something to do with his view on sex, intamacy and women.
  • Pinkie is young and inexperienced.
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Character analysis- Rose

  • She is the opposite to Pinkie, she represents goodness.
  • She uses simple coloquial language
  • When she is aroused by her love Pinkie she becomes sentimental- inflated emotions
  • Occasional romantism
  • Poor background
  • Complete loyalty to pinkie
  • She shares Pinkies fear of enternal damnation, and therefore she offers him and unselfish, redemptive love.
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Character analysis-Ida

  • She becomes an amateur dective, trying to solve the murder of Fred Hale
  • Coarse lover of life- stern righteousness
  • Loud bousterous manner in pubs, singing sentimental ballads
  • Eye for an eye - law and order -her duty
  • Ideas on right and wrong
  • She wishes justice to be served
  • Good natured joy of living
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Graham Greene and Human nature

Human nature is fixed. We are all doomed to make the same choices/ decisions:

"Its like those sticks of rock, bite them all the way down, you'll still read Brighton. Thats Human nature".

There is still the potential to change.

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Cruelty of human nature-Brighton Rock

  • The novel explores the cruelty of human nature through the character of Pinkie Brown. The novel centers the conflict around Pinkie and Ida, a woman who is seeking for justice for her dead aquantance, Fred Hale, who she belives was murdered by Pinkie and his gang. Ida and Pinkie are also in conflict over the soul of Rose, the naive girl who holds the proof of Pinkies guilt.
  • Brighton Rock runds through him
  • Hale's uncertainty in the first lines is a clear and early indication before we even meet Pinkie Brown that Pinkie has and unyeilding nature.
  • Evil runs through Pinkie and Brighton- Graham Greenes contrast
  • Pinkie has a need to prove himself in his gang- being only 17, "a face of starved intensity"..."a king of hideous and unnatural pride"
  • Green's hunter metaphor: Pinkie observes Hale in the way "you might expect a hunter searching through the jungle for some half- fabulous beast...before the kill"- sinister impression.
  • Ida's "cheery soul" provokes an angry response from Pinkie "You've got no cause to talk about souls".
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A Clockwork Orange- Key themes

Blood: Alex revels in his descriptions of the red, hot blood that oozes or gushes out of his victimes. To him blood is beauty, he experiences aesthetic joy from the blood he sheds.

Night and Darkness: Alex identifies with the night and all things associated with it. According to him so do the otehr 'modern youth', since they rule the streets at night. The night presents some sort of security, and they crave this. It enables crime and they can not be found so easily.

Day and lightness: it is for 'starry folk'. Security can be ensured during the day. For Alex these are not his elements and he feels vunerable and exposed in the daylight.

Violence: Alex loves violence acts and music reels him on. Alex's use of slang is sped up and is more exaggerated during his violent crimes. Mindless vandals. Disregards religious connotations.

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Men and Masculinity: Set in a dystopian future which is very masculine orientated.  The setting is not typically female, it is a destructive urban jungle, with graffiti and gangs lining the streets. Women in the novel are also treated with little respect, though the acts of **** and other forms of abuse.  The only women in the books appear to be victims, apart from Alex's mother. Alex and his droogs get much pleasure out of abusing vunerable women. Most of the men in the novel are aggressive, which Alex and his droogs using nadsat slang which is a very violent language.

Fate and free will: Good and evil, morality and fate and free will (very linked ). Alex belives that everyone has free will, and therefore everyone can do what they wish. "What I do I do because I like to do". Alex belives that people are born with badness, just as they are born with goodness. Alex choses's to be bad.

"Is a man who choose's the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him ?"

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Nature V's Nuture:

This comes down to whether one believes taht humans are born 'good' or 'bad'. Or whether what we are like when were born are more important than the environment that we grow up in determining how we behave.

"A man who cannot chose, ceases to be a man "

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Key quotations

p.1 "What's it going to be then, eh?"

p.8 "The knives in the milkplus were stabbing away nice and horrorshow now"

p.10 "that brought the red out like and old friend"

p.17 "HOME, a gloomy sort of a name"

p.19 "crack crack" and "razrez abd razrez"

p.19 "I didnt like that, it being dirty and slobbery"

p. 30 "Thats why im warning you, little Alex"

p. 31 "What i do I do because I like to do"

p.33 " The day was very different to the night. The night belonged to me and my droogs and all the rest of the nadsats"

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Key quotations

p.36 "Beast and hateful animal. Flithy horror"

p. 53 "He spat. He spat. He spat full in my litso and then wiped his wet spitty rot with the back of his rooker".

p. 63 "Goodness comes from within, 6655321. Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot chose he ceases to be a man"

p. 70 "An eye for an eye, I say"

p. 81 "Your being made sane, your being made healthy"

p.93 "Please I Must do something. Shall i clean your boots? Look, I'll get down and lick them.

p. 124 "Good bye good bye, may God forgive you for a ruined life"

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Character analysis


He is a 15 year old boy and protagonist of the novel. Like the rest of his droogs he speaks in nadsat. He is witty, charming, intelligent, violent, sadistic, and totally without remorse for his actions. He leads his gang on crime sprees, ******, beating, and pillaging, and becomes upset when his gang does not engage in their crimes with style. Alex's love of music, particularly Beethoven, marks him as an aesthete, and this attitude carries over to the way he "performs" his violent acts, often dancing. His attitude towards others is primarily ironic; he calls his victims "brother" and speaks as if with a perpetual smirk.The extent of Alex's evil nature is evident in his fantasies. For example, he dreams about nailing Jesus to the cross. Authorities are perplexed as to how Alex became the way he is. His guidance counselor, P. R. Deltoid, asks him, "You've got a good home here, good loving parents, you've got not too bad of a brain. Is it some devil that crawls inside you?" Alex remains his evil self, even after two years in prison and Ludovico' s Technique, though he behaves differently. In the last chapter, however, Alex matures and begins to weary of his violent ways, fantasizing about having a wife and children.

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Character analysis- Dr Brodsky

Dr. Brodsky

Dr. Brodsky is the psychologist in charge of administering Ludovico's Technique on Alex. He is a hypocrite and in many ways morally worse than Alex. He is a philistine of sorts, knowing nothing about music, which is, for Burgess, a "figure of celestial bliss." Materialist and scientist that he is, Brodsky considers music merely an "emotional heightener." He plainly takes pleasure in Alex's misery, laughing at the pain he experiences during the treatment. Before Alex is released from prison, Brodsky demonstrates to state and prison officials how Ludovico's Technique has turned Alex into a "true Christian."

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Character analysis- Chaplin

Prison Chaplain

The chaplain, a careerist and an alcoholic, befriends Alex in prison, permitting him to pick the music for services and listen to the stereo in chapel while reading the Bible. The chaplain finally speaks out against Ludovico's Technique when Alex is about to be released, arguing that human beings should be able to choose their actions. He is the character perhaps closest to Burgess's own philosophical position in the novel, and demonstrates this when he asks Alex, "What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?" Alex, however, is clueless, and wants nothing more than to be released from prison. When the chaplain speaks out against the treatment in front of prison and state officials, he jeopardizes his own career.

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Language in ACO

Nadsat, which means "teen" in Russian, is the language spoken in A Clockwork Orange. It is a mixture of Russian, English, and American slang, and rhyming words and phrases, with a touch of Shakespearean English. The singsong rhythm of the speech underscores the heavily stylized world of the novel and of Alex's own mind. Although many readers often initially struggle with understanding this slang of futuristic teenagers, they quickly pick up the speech patterns and the few hundred new words through the context in which they are used. By mirroring the violent acts the characters commit, Nadsat has a kind of onomatopoeic quality. That is, the words sound like the actions they describe. For example, "collocoll" means bell, and it also sounds like a bell ringing. Nadsat is also often highly metaphoric and ironic. The word "rabbit," for example, means to work, and the word "horrorshow" means beautiful. The former is metaphoric because working, for Alex, means engaging in meaningless and frenetic activity, which he associates with a rabbit's behavior. The latter is ironic because "horrorshow" suggests the opposite of what it means. Some of the words are just plain silly rhymes, reflecting a child's playful constructions.

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Structure in ACO


The novel is divided into three sections of seven chapters each. In his introduction to the 1987 American edition of the novel, Burgess notes that "Novelists of my stamp are interested in what is called arithmology, meaning that [a] number has to mean something in human terms when they handle it." At twenty-one, citizens in Great Britain, the United States, and Russia can vote; the age symbolizes a mature human being. The novel is the story of one human being's growth into an adult, among other things.

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Narrative technique in ACO

 In A Clockwork Orange, Burgess uses a first-person central narrator, Alex, who details his violent antisocial crimes in an often humorous and intimate manner. In so doing, Burgess creates sympathy for a character who in most ways is abominable.

Alex refers to himself as "your humble narrator" or "handsome young narrator," calling attention to the reader's role, as well as his own. Often Alex addresses readers, "Oh brother," or "Oh, my brothers," asking them to share in his own reaction to events as he recalls them. This technique draws readers into the story, lessening the emotional distance between themselves and Alex.But Alex's story is no confession; he does not seek forgiveness. Rather, he revels in his exploits and celebrates them, and if anything, is nostalgic at the end of the novel for his violent past and diminishing violent desires. He wants readers to share this sense of loss with him, hence his appeal to them throughout the book. Readers are "brothers" because Alex assumes that at some level they share his fascination with evil and their dark side, just as he does his own.

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Narrative technique in ACO

Readers also sympathize with Alex when he returns home from prison only to be rejected by his parents, and when he is beaten by Dim and Billyboy and cannot defend himself because of his conditioned aversion to violence. Alex's honesty, his willingness to share the details of his crimes and his thinking surrounding those crimes, his emotional vulnerability, and his role as a victim of governmental oppression, however, do not make him a hero. Rather, he is a kind of antihero. In contrast to heroes—who, according to Aristotle, are of noble birth and intentions but have a tragic flaw— antiheroes are defined by their status as outsiders who often exist in an absurd or incomprehensible universe and feel defeated and trapped in their lives.

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What does A Clockwork Orange mean ?

The title refers to the Cockney saying "as queer as a clockwork orange". It means that something appears to be natural on the outside, but on the inside, it is actually artificial. The primary topics the novel deals with are the relationship between evil and free will, the state's role in human affairs, and what it means to be human. Alex is a naturally evil human being. The government, in attempting to control people's desires, try to rehabilitate Alex so that he chooses good over evil. Alex's attempt to be good is artificial because it isn't his true nature. A human's true nature comes from the inside. The artificial nature is forced on Alex from an outside force, the government.

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"Alex is too brutal to be wholly sympathetic and too strong to be a victim. But like many a rebel-hero, he excludes diabolic charm" -Introduction to 'A Clockwork Orange', By Blake Morrison

"He (Burgess) felt that there was little point in writing a novel which didn't allow for moral growth"-Introduction to 'A Clockwork Orange', By Blake Morrison

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Irony in ACO

  • Irony is extensively used in ACO. One of the most repeated and significant exmaples of irony is in Alex's description of violence. Prior to his treatment, he refers any form of violence as 'beautiful'. But after he hits Dim in the face, Alex says Dim is "singing blood to make up for his vulgarity". However, Alex refers to things most people regard as benficial- education, religion and rational though- as undesirable and grotesque. Everything then that should be good becomes bad and visa versa.
  • After the state reforms Alex begins contemplating his new accidental Judeo-Christian ethics : "And what, brothers, I had to escape into sleep from then was the horrible and wrong feeling that it was better to get the hit than give it. If that veck had stayed I might even have like presented the other cheeck"
  • Also the treatment that Alex undergoes is so that Alex will not terrorize anyone, yet the treatment terrorizes himself.
  • Alex has a love for classical music, and the irony lies in that the authorities turn this music into something he hates.
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Thank you so so much! 



This was so helpful, thank you! Do you have any more resources by chance? Such as comparison between the two books?



Hi, this is amazing thank you so much, what grade did you get for your english lit AS from just these revision cards ? :D



Hi, this is amazing thank you so much, what grade did you get for your english lit AS from just these revision cards ? :D



Excellent resource, thanks a lot! :D 

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