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Style And Setting In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

1016 words - 5 pages

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) is a novel written by Ken Kesey following his experiences at a mental institution. Kesey wrote the book to critique American Society in the 1950s. Set in a mental hospital during the 50s, the novel explores the narrator’s journey to sanity as well as the conflict between the central characters. Two of the main themes of the novel are the themes of power and journey to freedom. In his novel, Kesey criticizes society’s behaviour towards people who are different. His use of setting and stylistic features throughout the novel contributes towards developing the themes of freedom and power.
Kesey’s use of style allows him to explore the themes of freedom and ...view middle of the document...

Several pages of the book contain references to machines and technical objects. Early on in the novel, Bromden describes Nurse Ratched as being machine-like. When he sees her approaching the black boys, he says that “she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside…” (Pg. 5). He also describes her gestures as being “Precise, automatic…” and her face as being “smooth, calculated and precision-made…” (Pg. 5). This kind of imagery gives the reader a feeling of being in a factory and reinforces Bromden’s thoughts about the world being a great big factory and humans being machines. The Fog is another feature of imagery in the novel. The Chief and many of the other patients in the hospital are constantly surrounded by the fog supposedly made by Nurse Ratched. It is evident that the fog is not really a literal fog, but a medicinally induced state of illusion. Hence, the fog acts as a metaphor for being in an illusion, and is described in the novel as a state of seeing things that are not really there. It also highlights the power of Nurse Ratched over the patients of the mental hospital and keeps the patients from rebelling against the Nurse.
Kesey’s use of setting also contributes towards developing the themes of power and freedom of the novel, especially the theme of power. As stated in the introduction, the novel is set in a mental hospital during the 1950s. This is evident as World War II is still a recent memory for the Chief, and he has been in the asylum for quite a while. The setting plays a very important role in the development of the plot as well as the themes of freedom and power. The hospital is a place filled with rules and regulations that every patient has to abide...

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