One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

2909 words - 12 pages

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is a compelling novel that challenges the reader's perception of sanity and insanity. This novel examines the issue of sanity in a somewhat modern society. Kesey illustrates the workings of a mental hospital and the affect of these workings on the people in the hospital. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Kesey reverses control in the mental hospital by proving the patients can show more sanity than those who are in control of the hospital. This can be seen in the characters of Nurse Ratched, Randle Patrick McMurphy, and Chief Bromden. Together these main characters create the action of the novel and start the sequence of events leading to a tragic ending.No story is complete without a sense of good and bad. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest all the evil needed is provided in the character of Nurse Ratched, know as "The Big Nurse" to patients on the ward. Ratched is a cold, uncaring woman in control of the ward in the hospital, that is the setting throughout the novel. Although Dr. Spivey has the most authority on the ward, Ratched controls everything that happens. She intimidates the patients to do what she wants them to do and is not open to change on her ward. In the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to Nurse Ratched by Bromden, the narrator of the novel, who explains her control over the hospital and how everything works on the ward: "The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision made machine" (Kesey 30) Not only does Nurse Ratched intimidate patients to remain in control of the ward, she also keeps the staff in fear. Through character development it is demonstrated that the nurse is not a suitable for her position in the hospital. "she must make them fear and respect her so that she can feel superior" (Malin 441). At all times the nurse projects an image of power and control when she is actually very insecure about herself and her surroundings. This projection of security and control is more for her benefit than the ward's. Nurse Ratched is very unsure of herself and she goes to extents to hide her body underneath a plain, unflattering uniform. Ratched shows no sign of emotion when dealing with the patients or the staff. It is Ratched's personality, mixed with the personality of McMurphy, that causes the main conflict of the novel. Ratched runs a dictatorship in the ward in which she in the dictator. In order to be released from the hospital it is expected that patients need to be able to accept change and to live in a normal social setting before they can leave the ward, but their teacher for these lessons is the Nurse Ratched. She is an anti-social character who can not deal with change at all one her ward. She is unable to help the patients on the ward and eventually begins to lose control after the introduction of McMurphy into her life. McMurphy has the courage to openly...

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