Nurse Ratched

2555 Words11 Pages
History will show that women who procured stature and power in society have always struggled to keep their position, and those who tried to topple these women from their lofty perch were, more than likely, always men. It is the same in Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in which the character, Nurse Ratched, struggles to keep her self-constructed domain together after an opposing enemy, named McMurphy, fights to pull power from her by causing a revolt. In the end, Nurse Ratched wins the battle between her and McMurphy by having him lobotomized, but does she really win the age-old battle of male versus female by suppressing him? Another question is: Why do readers see Nurse Ratched as an evil and conniving woman for…show more content…
The patients on the ward believe that Nurse Ratched wants a “world of precision, efficiency, and tidiness” and in her own utopian society, she does. She wants control over her self-created domain even if it means handpicking the doctor to maintain control of the medical environment she wants. Several questions arise at this point: Could Nurse Ratched be a calculating boss who wants to ensure that her job is performed as efficiently as possible? How much do we believe what the inmates are saying? After all, their minds are in a “fog” for a majority of the day, and they are in a mental institution. How credible can their descriptions of Nurse Ratched be? If we take Nurse Ratched’s characteristics and apply Josephine Donovan theory, from her essay, “Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism,” she would more than likely describe Nurse Ratched as an “Other,” i.e., a woman who “detracts from the goals of the male protagonist,” in this case, McMurphy. She would also state, “sexist ideology necessarily promotes the concept of woman-as-object or woman-as-other because “sexist ideology controls the text” (236). There is no doubt that Kesey uses “sexist ideology” to describe Nurse Ratched and the other women in the text, but is his description of Nurse Ratched a negative personification of a “woman-as-object” or “woman-as-other?” Could he be describing the strengths of a woman instead of her
Get Access