Feminism lens essay about 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey: Stereotypical female roles against matriarchal female (Big Nurse)

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Throughout history, the struggle of women to gain and sustain power in society has proven to be difficult, and has coexisted with a rivalry against the opposite sex. Women have been denied many throughout the course of history. They have been discriminated against, lost jobs, lost privileges. Women 's suffrage had not developed in the United States until the Nineteenth Amendment, which became effective in time to allow the voting by women nationally in the Presidential election of August 18, 1920. Stereotypical views of the ideal features of women are femininity, maternity, gentility, care, nurture, and dependency. Not matriarchy, independence, nor strength. Women are not generally associated with these traits, and society generally …show more content…

At times, Ratched refers to the sexuality of the men in the institute, making them inferior because of their inabilities.

Ratched 's strength, and matriarchial character as a woman directly contradict the assumed characteristics associated with women; those of femininity and gentility. This contradiction is established in a way many by critics that look at the surface of the topic as a sexist description. In multiple occurrences throughout the progression of the novel, Ratched 's female characteristics are exaggeratively described by the patients such as McMurphy. McMurphy describes Ratched as having too red lipstick and the too big boobs. (43) and as a a bitch and a buzzard and a ballcutter. Therefore, Ratched directly opposes the traditional gentle view of women as a matriarch but is given over-exaggerated female characteristics. Kesey 's purpose in creating this contrast between a stereotypical woman and and an ideal woman that is independent and strong is to establish the unsuccessful attempt at triumph of the ideal strong woman.

The unsuccessful attempts of Ratched are depicted by her failure to meet the assumed role of being a nurse that consists of helping and healing her patients. Instead of helping, Ratched proceeds to make the state and situation of her patients worse and worse as she puts them down about their inabilities and maintains total control over them. Ratched is even viewed as evil. McMurphy

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