The Good And The Flawed ' One Flew Over The Cuckoo 's Nest '

Decent Essays

The Good and the Flawed
According to Aristotle, “a perfect tragedy should be […] that of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or some depravity, but by some error or frailty” (Butcher 45). The novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, follows ‘Chief’ Bromden, the narrator, as he copes with life in a mental asylum in the 1950’s after the arrival of McMurphy, a stubborn and hot-headed new patient. Aristotle first defined the perfect protagonist of a tragedy in his book Poetics, published around 300 BC. His ideas of what characteristics constitute a tragic hero continue to be used to this day in analyzing the role individuals play in literature. Because McMurphy is fundamentally good yet also flawed, and because with his demise comes a significant message, he can be considered a tragic hero.
Despite McMurphy’s uncaring attitude and criminal past his actions throughout the book show that he is a good person deep down. For example, when George, a fellow patient, is being harassed by an aid McMurphy, “took a deep breath and stepped across to the [aid], shoving him away from George” (230). Ultimately this leads to McMurphy being sent to the disturbed ward where he undergoes electroshock therapy. This self-sacrificing action shows that he is a kindhearted person and values the wellbeing of those around him. In another instance McMurphy witnesses an aid gleefully steal all of Bromden’s old cherished gum. Instead of

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