One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest

2432 WordsOct 8, 199910 Pages
Literature Essay: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by K. Kesey. “Discuss how the world within the ward is mirrored in the world outside.” It is suggested that Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest contains examples of behaviour and attitudes displayed by characters within the clinical environment of the psychiatric ward which can be compared to behaviour found within contemporary American society. These include examples of leadership and hierarchy within a class or caste system, sexism and crime and punishment. In the text, the theme of leadership is very prominent and important to the story. Arguably it is more important theme of the book, than the issue of mental illness, which forms the…show more content…
Vegetables are patients who, through excessive ECT ‘Shock Shop’ (18) or through the overperscription of tranquillising medications: ‘Ellis is a chronic came in an Acute and got fouled up bad when they overloaded him in the Shock Shop…’ (18) When McMurphy enters the ward, he assumes the role of a leader over all of his fellow patients in the ward. McMurphy has a strong, intelligent character and so he is able to manipulate others who are more vulnerable than he is. An example of his manipulation is when he shows some playing cards with pornographic photographs on them to Cheswick: ‘I brought along my own deck…Fifty-two positions’. Cheswick is pop-eyed already…those cards don’t help his condition. (16) Personality types which can be seen in contemporary society can also be seen very clearly with regard to the characters in the ward setting: McMurphy’s character is a rebel character who hates authority and authoritative figures. This is, perhaps, why he clashes so fiercely with Big Nurse. Chief is the veteran of the ward. He has been there the longest, since the start of World War II, with the exception of Big Nurse. He has the mutual respect of everyone in the ward. Billy Bibbit is insecure and has a stutter. His name is ironic

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