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One Flew Over The Cooko

’s Nest Essay, Research Paper

One Flew Over The Cuckoo?s Nest

In our study of this novel of rebellion, and protest. The ward in One

Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest is microcosism of a much larger world, where

power is too often misused and individuality is stifled for the sake of

conformity.By using Chief Bromden as the Narrator Kesey pulls the reader

right in to the middle of this by taking the only character that can shed light

on all of the dominant themes present in the novel. Which are Kesey?s views

on the feminist movement, civil rights, and the underlying idea of conformity.

All of these issues are exposed in the ?pool scene? in which the author, and

director are constrained to different parameters, and must use different

devices to convey the same message.

The dominant theme in this novel is that of conformity. In the novel

conformity is represented as a machine, or in Chief Bromden’s mind a

“combine” . To the Chief, the “combine’ depicts the conformist society of

America The Chief views the mental hospital as a big machine , which is run

by ? The Big Nurse? who controls everyone except McMurphy with ?wires?,

and a ?control panel?( which the Chief see quite clearly in his psychosis). In

the Chief?s eyes McMurphy was missed by the ?combine?, and the Chief and

the acutes were lured into it. Therefore McMurphy is an nonconformist and is

free from the ?wires? of ?The Big Nurse? and so he is a threat to the

?combine?. This is very clear in the ?pool scene?. This excerpt from the

book demonstrate?s R.P?s influence on the acutes to rebel, ?Now that

McMurphy was around to back them up, the guys started letting fly at

everything that had ever happened on the ward they didn?t like.?(158) In the

film you can actually see the acutes looking at McMurphy after they make

their arguments to nurse Ratched, and he backs them up in the book by asking

the doctor directly before the nurse had a chance to answer. This segment of

the novel unmistakably depics the notion of rebellion.

Another significant theme in Kesey’s novel is the role of women in

society, and how it contradicts the males. In keeping with the highly

contrasting forces of conformity verses creativity Kesey compares the male

role of impulsiveness, sexuality, and nature with the female role of

conformity, sexual repression and ultimately the psychological castration of

the male. Nurse Ratched was endowed with large breast which threatens her

power over the male patients by exposing herself sexually, and Kesey’s view

in the novel of male sexual dominance, hence she try’s to hide them the best

she can. Nurse Ratched gains her power through her sterility which in the

novel Chief descibes her face as appearing enamel. In the film she does this

with no makeup and white uniform.. ?The Big Nurse? takes the place of the

mother role or over domineering feminine role in a lot of the patients lives,

which led them to their psychological castration. This is obvious patient Billy

Bibbit a thirty one year old man whose mental problems were due to his over

domineering mother , who was friends with Nurse Ratched. The downfall of

Billy was toward the climax of the novel when “The Big Nurse” brought to

the surface Billy’s inability to stand up to his mother and her years of

psychological castration, and soon after, led his suicide.

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