Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The theme of this story “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” according to Daniel Woods is “Power is the predominant theme of Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest': who holds power, who doesn't, who wants it, who loses it, how it is used to intimidate and manipulate and for what purposes, and, most especially, how it is disrupted and subverted, challenged, denied and assumed” (http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/cuckoosnest/essays/essay1.html). No, it is not McMurphy who flew over the Cuckoo’s nest, or Harding, or Taber. It wasn’t Martini or Cheswick, or Bibbit, Chief Bromden or Bancini. The journey of crazies that flew over the Cuckoo’s nest was in the asylum, but they were …show more content…
She is bitter, hardhearted, and really neutral in the lives of the patients. She is worried only with maintaining her unquestionable power and authority over the men in the ward. Forman, in the film however, does not make many attempts to float Nurse Ratched’s concealed femininity to the surface. Forman does not want to mess the minds of the spectators (with Nurse Ratched’s suppressed woman ness) and danger marginalizing the significance of the fight of the patients, which is the center of the movie.
Randall delicately develops relationships with the other patients and encourages them to think for themselves. In one act, he asks the other men in the treatment sitting to choose for watching the World Series instead of the regular TV programming. He rises up in the middle of the session and asks "Which one of you nuts has got any guts?" He is asking the others to join him in his deliberative effort to undermine Nurse Ratched’s authority.
Forman presents this film and plot to us in a direct and simple manner. The camera will zoom in on a personality without trying to conceal the detail of its being there. As a viewer you can feel the camera moving forward and zooming in and are persuaded to incline into the screen yourself.
As this film represents a microcosm of the injustices of the real world, Forman zooms in on characters during critical scenes of the movie to highlight the character’s message. The
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Setting is also important, as it refers to the period this book was set in, the 1950's. Ultimately, it is a reflection of what was happening in American society at the time, and what American society expected from each other. McCarthyism, as started by Senator Joseph McCarthy, was the most prevalent movement of the 1950's, where there was great momentum for anti-communism and the suppression of the Anti-communist party. Freedom of speech was suppressed, just like speech and actions were inside the hospital. Here, the Combine and Nurse Ratched act like the McCarthy "representatives", where the patients are seen as members of the public, having their every word and movement under close scrutiny.
The oppressor, or antagonist, of the story is Nurse Ratched, or the Big Nurse. Her methods of oppression, including attempts to emasculating the men in the medical ward, is the foundation of the work. The nurse uses her power to manipulate the patients as well as members of the staff in the hospital. Since she is in charge of the entire ward, she runs it with an iron fist while concealing her feminism and humanity behind a patronizing façade. As the story progresses, Nurse Ratched loses some power over the patients with the introduction of a new patient on the ward, Randle McMurphy. As McMurphy continues to fight her oppression, her façade breaks down and falls apart as she loses control.
The choice that a novelist makes in deciding the point of view for a novel is hardly a minor one. Few authors make the decision to use first person narration by secondary character as Ken Kesey does in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. By choosing Bromden as narrator instead of the central character of Randle Patrick McMurphy, Kesey gives us narration that is objective, that is to say from the outside of the central character, and also narration that is subjective and understandably unreliable. The paranoia and dementia that fill Bromden's narration set a tone for the struggle for liberation that is the theme of the story. It is also this choice of narrator that leads
Second in a discussion of power are the women associated with the patients. The supervisor at the hospital is associated with the patients by controlling who is employed to take care of the patients. Nurse Ratched and the supervisor served in the Army together as nurses. They are still very close and have a good relationship. Because of this relationship, Nurse Ratched’s employment is secured and others won’t stand up to her for fear of losing their own jobs. Harding states “In this hospital, the doctor doesn’t hold the power of hiring and firing. That power goes to the supervisor and the supervisor is a woman, a dear old friend of Miss Ratched’s” (61). The receptionist on the ward is Nurse Ratched’s neighbor
Other patients on the ward begin to stand up to Nurse Ratchet and her rules. For instance, Cheswick hollers “ Rules? Piss on your fucking rules, Miss Ratched!” (Forman One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Film). A momentary outburst from Cheswick is an indicator that McMurphy has been able to model a sense of indignance at all of their treatment, and this is now being emulated by other patients through their behaviour towards Nurse Ratched. Another instance of patients talking down to Ratchet is when Sefelt states “Maybe he'll just show Nurse Ratched his big thing and she'll open the door for him.” (Forman One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Film). In this statement the use of sexual language is about empowerment. This makes reference to the possibility that McMurphy holds the key to their liberation from Nurse Ratchet’s control through his capacity to dominate her both sexually and otherwise. His ability to stand up to her and challenge her has captured Sefelt’s
Searching for an archetype, or an example, when trying something for either the first time or something that is daunting is a common train of thought for a person. This same idea can apply to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in which the protagonist essentially becomes an embodiment of a hero. This piece of literature takes place in the 1960’s, and is presented through the vision of Chief Bromden, a patient that is stuck within an figment of imagination where those who fall to the mechanical system become the machines themselves. The novel’s lead character, Randle Patrick McMurphy, assumes the role of a hero, in both a classical and contemporary sense, where he is pitched against Big Nurse Ratched, a tyrannical force within the
Nurse Ratched, the ward supervisor, personifies the forces that seek to control the individual by subduing their right to think and act for themselves. She acts as a dictator who is constantly manipulating her patients to gain an advantage over them. Because Nurse Ratched supervises a mental hospital, she is expected to tell her patients what to do, but “the novel suggests that Nurse Ratched goes beyond mere supervision and instead seeks to rule all elements of the patients lives” (“Oppression in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”). Nurse Ratched and her staff dehumanize the patients, and this eventually causes the patients to become broken inside.
Regarding Miss Ratched, she seems to show signs of passive-aggressive behavior throughout the book. This behavior adds to her manipulative ways and contributed to the decrease of the patients’ progress (mental/physical state). Passive-aggressive behavior is used to maintain control and power because it’s a way for her to not display any signs of weakness. Miss Ratched, also known as the Big Nurse to the patients, fights hard to remain as the top authority figure in the Ward due to her thirst for power. To maintain the control over the men, she emasculates them, stripping them of their masculinity, in various ways to prevent the chance of an uproar against her. For instance, after a group meeting regarding Harding’s problem with his wife’s breasts, the patients attack Harding. In response, McMurphy provides an analogy of a pecking party to the current
When norms of society are unfair and seem set in stone, rebellion is bound to occur, ultimately bringing about change in the community. Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest demonstrates the conflict of individuals who have to survive in an environment where they are pressured to cooperate. The hospital's atmosphere suppresses the patients' individuality through authority figures that mold the patients into their visions of perfection. The ward staff's ability to overpower the patients' free will is not questioned until a man named Randal McMurphy is committed to the mental institute. He rebels against what he perceives as a rigid, dehumanizing, and uncompassionate
Ratched is drastically changed by Bromden’s point of view. While in the movie, Ms. Ratched seems rigid, strict, and controlling, Bromden’s descriptions in the book paint her as a manipulative monster. When he describes Ratched’s transformation into her “real self,” he describes her growing huge. Her size is a metaphor for how much power she has over everyone in the hospital. In the movie, Ms. Ratched’s personality can only be developed by her actions. Because of this, her characterization is much less powerful, and she seems less as, to quote the patients, “a ball-cutter.” This takes away from the main conflict in the movie of nurse Ratched versus the protagonist, Randall
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a controversial novel that has left parents and school authorities debating about its influence on students since its publication in 1962. The novel describes the inner workings of a mental institution, how the patients are emasculated and mistreated by the terrifying Nurse Ratched, who will go to any length to control them. But in comes McMurphy, a criminal who chose to go to an asylum rather than serve physical labor; he disrupts the order of the hospital with his big personality and loud opinions, undermining the authority of Nurse Ratched and encouraging the patients to live their own lives, until he too, is silenced forever by authority. With his novel, Ken Kesey paints society as an oppressive
The one that flies over the cuckoo's nest is the giant, allegedly deaf-mute Chief Bromden. In Ken Kesey's original novel, Chief narrates the story, providing evocative images of an all-powerful bureaucratic 'harvesting machine' fostering functionalist social integration: a combine that would process out individuality, thus creating compliant individuals (the exaggerated representation of this in the film's ward is a microcosm of society at large). Those who did not conform would be relegated to a correctional facility for repair or removal.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a story that has touched the lives of many people since the publishing of the novel by Ken Kesey in 1962 and the premier of the film (directed by Miloš Forman) in 1975. The story has remained timeless and continues to be a critical part of the educational curriculum. This is because the story-line continues to relate to current themes and issues our society is experiencing. One of these issues including the need for rebellion against a strict autocracy or governing body. It is evident throughout both the film and the novel rebellion is needed by those who are a minority, by individuals, and those within our society.
Even her name, Ratched, can be interpreted as a tool, the ratchet, or a word meaning filled with misery, wretched. She works as the head administrative nurse in a mental institution which is the Salem, Oregon State Hospital, where she maintains complete control over her patients' privileges and basic necessities of life, withdrawing them whenever a patient displeases her. In the novel, Nurse Ratched is presented as “a bitch and a buzzard and a ball-cutter,” (Kesey, 1962, p. 36) as said by Harding, one of her patients. There are also constant sexual references towards her “big, womanly breasts,” (Kesey, 1962, p. 8) which Nurse Ratched attempts to conceal, as evidenced by the quote; “in spite of all her attempts to conceal them, in that sexless get-up, you can still make out the evidence of some rather extraordinary breasts,” (Kesey, 1962, p. 42). This “sexless get-up” that is mentioned in the novel refers to, “Her uniform, even after she’s been here half a day, is still starched so stiff it don’t exactly bend any place; it cracks sharp at the joints with a sound like a frozen canvas being folded,” (Kesey, 1962, p. 27).
Laughter proves a vital role in helping the patients deal with their problems. Not only does it help them deal with problems but it also gave them the push toward progress on getting out of the institution. Randall McMurphy is sent to the asylum, he shows them that to laugh is good, and laughing at yourself can sometimes be the best medicine. He is the comic healer who gives life to the otherwise hopeless patients of the asylum. McMurphy was the one who started making people laughing in the ward. When he first came into the ward he was cracking jokes and shaking everybody’s hand. (16) No one in the ward responded with any real response but confusion. Nobody knew what laughter was in the ward, it was taken from them. The only thing they had was board games and Mrs. Ratched’s music (15). The ward was a very depressing place.