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Humor And Laughter Do Not Play A Role In "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest", By Ken Kesey.

1029 words - 4 pages

Humor and Laughter do not play a significant role in the lives of the patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, the patients of the ward live miserable existences, drifting day by day in the homely-looking, sterile, depressing world of a mental asylum. They have forgotten how and when to laugh, or otherwise express humor, because they are under such strict and authoritative rule at the ward. The patients have lost purpose in their lives and are essentially comatose. With the injection of a new figure into their world, Randle Patrick McMuphy, the asylum residents are reminded how to laugh and learn how humor and laughter can be the best 'medicine' for their dismal existence. McMurphy has an affinity for laughter and makes it a goal to bring joy back into the hearts and souls of the patients. Humor and laughter play important roles in life at the ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. My theory is that humor and laughter assist the patients in overthrowing the head nurse, Nurse Ratched and regaining control over their lives. From day one at the ward, McMurphy brings this intangible idea of laughter to his new companions. When he first enters the ward, the thing that immediately distinguishes him, aside from his lack of fear, are his jokes. He laughs out loud at anything and everything and makes fun of the patients, aides and staff, and most astonishingly, Nurse Ratched. McMurphy finds it strange that none of the patients are able to laugh; they can only smirk and chuckle surreptitiously behind their cards at the game table or behind their fists during their therapy sessions (19). I believe that since McMurphy has discovered that genuine laughter is rarely heard in the ward, he transforms the idea of laughter into a perpetual goal as he converts insults and oppressive conditions into jokes, and he tries to get others to join in on his game of laughter and fun. An example of this is shown when Nurse Ratched condemns his appalling behavior and cautions about the possibility of a lobotomy. Instead of taking the warning seriously, McMurphy turns it into a joke about his testicles (245). Earlier in the novel, after getting acquainted with the 'Acutes' of the ward, McMurphy makes a wager that he can get Nurse Ratched "to crack within a week," (68). By initiating this game, he proceeds to humorously and slyly make fun of Nurse Ratched which subverts her authority. To my point of view, by McMurphy even starting a game like this, he succeeds in bringing humor into the lives of the patients. This initiates the process whereby the patients are helped to win a battle that they did not even know existed. The battle is within themselves, learning to not take everything seriously. Throughout the novel, McMurphy continuously tells the other men jokes in an attempt to get them to laugh; however, all but Cheswick, who...

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