Cuckoo's Nest Speech

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Ken Kesey’s, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, is a novel set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital which portrays the psychedelic sixties. In this extract, Kesey strongly emphasizes the theme of power through Harding’s speech using different techniques. He does this by focusing on the context and the society of the sixties, conformity, strong use of animal imagery and the shift in power. Firstly, Harding’s speech effectively reflects the theme of power, by inferring the social and historical context in the sixties society. This is clearly evident, as Kesey creates a metaphor to the government’s exploitation when Harding claims, “The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak”. Besides from criticising the American government, Harding’s speech also highlights the Project MKUltra, which was an illegal program of experiments on humans, also referred as CIA’s mind control program. The verb “devouring” clearly portrays that the government and the CIA experiments made people vulnerable, by personifying them as predators. Nevertheless, this representation of predators and preys also reflects the relationship between the nurse and the patients, accentuating the power of the nurse and how she’s seen as a superior figure, which they will never defeat. In addition to this, the word “ritual” adds a sense of conspiracy and secrecy towards the government that can’t be broken and, therefore, mirrors Nurse Ratched who will always be in power. Moreover,
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