Christ-like McMurphy in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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The Christ-like McMurphy in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Ken Kesey utilizes Jesus Christ as a constant symbol throughout One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The protagonist of the story acts as a model and leader for other characters in the book, just as Christ was for his disciples. It is appropriate that such a leader would be closely associated with a powerful, and worshiped figure. Kesey's use of Christ associates the ideas or theories in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with the bible. McMurphy, however, may seem an unlikely Christ-figure due to his violent, sexual and seemingly immoral behavior. His behavior is merely an embodiment of the reforming movements that both Jesus and McMurphy share. Kesey's
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When McMurphy shows his provocative and sexual playing cards to the men of the ward, he begins to unmask the importance of sexual expression, allegorical to the word of God or new religion proposed by Jesus. McMurphy also attempts to reveal the damaging effects of Nurse Ratched's mental ward, parallel to Jesus' attempts to bring humanity, "out of the darkness," and, "into the light of the Lord," where one can be eternally saved from original sin. In the first scene, we also meet Ellis, a man who has received numerous treatments at the facility and has become completely docile and, "Now he's nailed against the wall" (20). This image can be associated with the Book of Matthew because it foreshadows the inevitable Christ-like sacrifice that McMurphy makes at the end of the novel. Ellis also acts as the crucified criminals that share in Christ's pain beside him on the cross (Matthew 27). The image of Ellis communicates to the reader the impact and importance of McMurphy as a character of the salvation that he brings to the patients on the ward as the novel continues.

Perhaps the most direct symbol used to support Kesey's theme occurs when McMurphy is subjected to electroshock therapy. The electroshock table is depicted as "The table shaped like a cross," (117) - parallel to Jesus' crucifixion (Matthew 27). Additionally, McMurphy questions about a, "crown of thorns," which directly alludes to the Book of
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