'one Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' Relation To Foucault's Argument

1968 words - 8 pages

The movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, is a film that relates to Foucault’s analysis of discipline and punishment. Foucault’s argument is that power works in a disciplinary way in current society. The movie can relate to this because the institution that the movie took place in was ran using Foucault’s disciplinary technique. There are many scenes from the film that give an analysis of Foucault’s argument. Foucault believes that people have the power to punish the docile bodies that they produce.
Foucault argues in “The Carceral” that, “The least act of disobedience is punished and the best way of avoiding serious offences is to punish the most minor offences very severely…” (Foucault 1977: 294). In the movie, they used this technique. The Nurses and other people of authority in the film express this technique is because when the patients would act in a wrongful manner they would forcefully grab them and isolate them from the rest of the patients. Throughout that process there may have been some smacking. Also, in the scene where Cheswick continuously yelled about his cigarettes, it lead to himself, The Chief, and McMurphy to receive the electric shock therapy.
The electric shock therapy is a little harsh. The patients, besides McMurphy of course, didn’t think that the punishments were abusive in any way. Since they punished severely for such minor offences, they made the punishments normalized. Foucault would say that the patients are “docile bodies”. They were made docile by people who were “technicians of behavior”, “engineers of conduct”, and “orthopaedists of individuality”. These people were the nurses, doctors, and supervisors. In “The Carceral”, Foucault describes these people to have the task to, “…produce bodies that were both docile and capable; they directed the orderly movements of groups of inmates, physical exercises, military exercises, rising in the morning, going to bed at night…” (Foucault 1977: 294). These “technicians of behavior”, “engineers of conduct”, and “orthopaedists of individuality” created a routine that the patients conformed to, which produced them into docile bodies.
When McMurphy came to the institution, he was seen as being a problem. This is because he was going against Foucault’s argument of being docile. He did not want to conform to that. McMurphy soon realized that many of the patients were in the institution voluntarily, which caused for him to become more disobedient. He always tried to go against the nurses by telling the patients that they aren’t lunatics. He would consistently break the rules by trying to change the routine, by taking the patients fishing, teaching them to play basketball, and by sneaking in alcohol and girls during the hours of dark. Foucault would say that McMurphy was an anarchist rather than a conformist.
Harding from the movie is an example of what Foucault would describe as a docile body. He is subjected, used, transformed, and improved by Nurse...

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