A famous Chinese proverb states, “One dog barks at something and a hundred bark at the bark”. This use of animal imagery to explain the issues with human behavior can also be seen in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The novel, told through the eyes of schizophrenic chronic Chief Bromden, revolves around R. P. McMurphy helping the patients overcome their fear of Nurse Ratched and her power and control over the ward. Throughout the book, Kesey uses animal imagery to depict the personalities and behaviors of Nurse Ratched, McMurphy, and the patients. Nurse Ratched is a wolf, and she thrives off of her overbearing control over the patients in the ward and enjoys having everything conform to her set of rules.
Kesey explains that men cannot handle a female leader throughout the text. The Nurse suppresses the masculinity of the patients because she would have no power against them in their full strength. The men would not respect her power and revolt. Though Kesey’s characters convey misogynistic messages in the novel, the reader understands it as a critique of the male conscience. This timeless novel promotes awareness of gender issues in an uncommon fashion that relates to problems in today’s social
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a novel that delves into the inner workings of an Oregon mental institution and the abuse of and breakdown of power found within. Kesey’s utilization of literary devices such as symbolism, theme, and narrator gives his novel the shocking impact that made it into a memorable tale of insanity and the overthrow of “the system.” Symbolism is as key literary device used by Kesey in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and most notable of the symbolism used is the ever present fog. “They start the Fog Machine again and it’s snowing down cold and white all over me like skim milk, so thick I might even be able to hide in it if they didn’t have a hold of me. I can’t see six inches in front of me
They are her workhorses and adhere to her every need. They represent the dark enmity and the overpowering madness that lies inside of her. Nurse Ratched “ sits in the center of this web of wires like a watchful robot, tend her network with mechanical insect skill, know every second which wire runs where and just what current to send up to get the results she wants” (Kesey 29). Nurse Ratched strictly controls society in the
The Beat Generation of the 1950’s and early 1960’s encouraged a new lifestyle for young Americans striving for individualism and freedom, which included rock and roll music, long hair, relaxed style attire, vegetarianism, and experimenting with drugs (“Beat Movement”). Many young Americans of this era wanted to experiment with new social and cultural concepts, rebelling against “normal” American life. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, written by Ken Kesey, portrays the gruesomeness of conformity through the lives of patients in one of the asylum’s wards. The novel shows how the patients are confined to strict rules and limited freedom because of Nurse Ratched’s power.
The fear instilled in the men slows their recovery. Nurse Ratched purposely commits simple inhumane acts like these to exert her levels of empowerment, by belittling the mental patients. It is also described how horrendously they terrorize the ward members. The inhibition towards recuperation is also because nurse Ratched demoralizes their value as men. She does this through exclusion.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, considers the qualities in which society determines sanity. The label of insanity is given when someone is different from the perceived norm. Conversely, a person is perceived as sane when their behavior is consistent with the beliefs of the majority. Although the characters of this novel are patients of a mental institution, they all show qualities of sanity. The book is narrated by Chief Brodmen, an observant chronic psychiatric patient, who many believe to be deaf and dumb.
Everyone Agree? Perfect. "Nothing builds authority up like silence, splendor of the strong and shelter of the weak" (Charles de Gaulle). This idea is reflected in Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where it is shown how authority becomes more powerful by abusing the silence of the people.
Kesey argues that wolves are the threatening forces that dictate the lifestyle of rabbits. The wolf asserts her dominance over the rabbits and controls their potential for freedom. All the while, Nurse Ratched’s dominance is found in her direct control of the machine that is the mental hospital. According to Chief Bromden, Nurse Ratched can “turn that dial to a dead stop and freeze the sun” or “set the wall clock at whatever speed she wants” (71, 70). Here, Kesey gives Nurse Ratched literal control of the settings of the hospital to imply she desires social or spiritual control of the ward as
Ken Kesey uses his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to describe the lives of patients in a mental institution, and their struggle to overcome the oppressive authority under which they are living. Told from the point of view of a supposedly mute schizophrenic, the novel also shines a light on the many disorders present in the patients, as well as how their illnesses affect their lives during a time when little known about these disorders, and when patients living with these illnesses were seen as an extreme threat. Chief Bromden, the narrator of the novel, has many mental illnesses, but he learns to accept himself and embrace his differences. Through the heroism introduced through Randle McMurphy, Chief becomes confident in himself, and is ultimately able to escape from the toxic environment Nurse Ratched has created on the ward. Chief has many disorders including schizophrenia, paranoia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and, in addition to these illnesses, he pretends to be deaf and dumb.
Can Manipulation Be Used for Good? Laughter is something humans do inherently. If we find something humorous, we cannot resist the urge to laugh; it is uncontrollable. Control and humor are extremely important themes in Ken Kesey’s
In the novel, Kesey employs many characters, each with unique features. For example, Dale Harding, one of the protagonists in the story, was described as, “... a flat, nervous man ...” (Kesey 20) and in one of the group discussion lead by Nurse Ratched, he was reported of saying
Throughout Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the balance of power is challenged in the psychiatric ward. Out of the several leaders that appear in the novel, Nurse Ratched and McMurphy are the most prominent. During Nurse Ratched and McMurphy struggle for power, they share many of the same qualities. It is argued that: “McMurphy and Ratched are alike in intelligence, military service, distinctive (if opposite) clothing, and conventionally masculine qualities” (Evans). These small similarities; however, do not distract the characters from fighting for their individual beliefs.
Nurse Ratched has control over every guy in the hospital because she decides what they are doing every day when they wake up. She has brainwashed the men into think they need her. Vera has manipulated her husband Dale into thinking he is disgusting. Billy’s mother has emasculated him by deciding everything for him and letting him have no control over his own life. The men in this novel have lost their manhood to women who have manipulated them and they are too blind to see it till McMurphy shows them.
Nurse Ratched is the main antagonist who is a very cruel and manipulative nurse, in which all the characters seem to agree that she is out to get them. The other main female role is a hooker McMurphy knew before the hospital who plays a role of meeting the boys needs. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s