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One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

1020 words - 4 pages

The role of the hero in Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is played by Randle P. McMurphy, a wrongly committed mental patient with a lust for life. The qualities that garner Mc Murphy respect and admiration from his fellow patients are also responsible for his tragic downfall. These qualities include his temper, which leads to his being deemed "disturbed," his stubbornness, which results in his receiving numerous painful disciplinary treatments, and finally his free spirit, which leads to his death.

Despite Mc Murphy being noble man, in the end, these characteristics hurt him more than they help him. Throughout the novel, Mc Murphy displays that he has a wild temper. This temper aids him in his battle with the "Big Nurse" Nurse Ratched for control of the mental ward. However, his temper eventually works against him.

Upon McMurphy’s arrival to the ward he establishes himself as a con man and a gambler. One of his first bets with the other patients is to see if, within a week, he can put "a bee in [Nurse Ratched’s] butt, a burr in her bloomers. Get her goat. Bug her till she comes apart at those neat little seams" (Kesey, Nest 69). Mc Murphy makes this bet after he learns about the Disturbed Ward where "assaultive" and "potential assaultives" are sent, and also about the "shock shop" where Electro-Shock Therapy is administered to unruly patients.

Since Mc Murphy is "not in the habit of losing" (Kesey 68), he wants to be certain that he can get away with harassing the Big Nurse without receiving any of these punishments. He is told by a fellow patient, "as long as you don’t lose your temper and give her actual reason to request the restriction of the Disturbed Ward, or the therapeutic benefits of electro-shock you are safe. But that entails first and foremost keeping one’s temper. And you? With your red hair and black record? Why delude yourself" (68).This shows that Mc Murphy is already perceived as a man with a temper after only one day on the ward.McMurphy displays this temper throughout the novel, but one incident finally gets him into trouble.

During an argument with one of the black aides to the Big Nurse, a punch is thrown and a fight breaks out. This is what the Big Nurse has been waiting for; an excuse to send Mc Murphy to the Disturbed Ward. Upon his arrival to the Disturbed Ward, Electro-Shock Therapy is administered to Mc Murphy as punishment. The Big Nurse is able to get the upper hand in her battle against Mc Murphy when he allows his temper to take over.A second important personality trait of Mc Murphy is his stubbornness. It is part of his fighting spirit as he will not accept defeat. This is portrayed when Mc Murphy makes a wager with the other men that he can lift a large control panel.

Despite everyone’s doubts, he tries to lift it, and fails. Following his defeat,...

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