Theme Of Power In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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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…show more content…
This is clearly evident, when Harding states, “In defence, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about.” Here, Kesey uses the rabbit to symbolise the patients and the wolf to represent Nurse Ratched. The triplet, “sly and frightened and elusive” further emphasizes how inferior they are towards the nurse, suggesting they are conformed to this hierarchy in the ward. In addition to this, the alliteration of the h sound when Harding says, “he digs holes and hides”, mimics repeated breaths and, therefore, implies the struggle of the patients. Hence, this again infers that they are submissive towards Nurse Ratched. Nevertheless, this imagery can also be applied to the context of the 1960s, since it clearly represents the conformity and the division in society. The personification portrays this widening gap between the government and the population, creating a predator and prey relationship and, therefore, implying the government’s exploitation. Thus, Kesey again highlights the fact that people were obsessed with power. In conclusion, Kesey manages to present the theme of power through Harding’s speech, by focusing on the social and historical context and the psychedelic sixties society; the use of language in order to portray a momentary shift in power; and the animal imagery to highlight the hierarchy in society. On the other hand, we can note that Harding’s speech is flawed, since he merely divides society into two categories: the rabbits and the wolf. In this way, Kesey displays the lack of individuality in society. What about other
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