How Is Power Inequality In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Power Through Sexuality As the first woman prime minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “In politics, If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman” (Goodreads). Women have traditionally been relegated to household roles while men have held positions of power. In Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, this role is switched as an oppressive Nurse Ratched dominates a psychiatric ward and imposes her will upon the emasculated men of the ward. The story revolves around the power struggle between Nurse Ratched and boisterous newcomer Randle McMurphy. McMurphy realizes that much of her control comes from her lack of femininity and as a result he uses it against her in disrupting the established power. By nurse Ratched dressing in a masculine way, the patients are seemingly rendered powerless against her non femininity. Kesey supports traditional gender expectations in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest through the…show more content…
This was a culmination of the power struggle between the two characters. In an act of rage, McMurphy tears off Nurse Ratched’s uniform and exposes her breasts. She becomes shocked and is sent to medical. After returning, her old uniform was replaced, “And a new white uniform. Some of the guys grinned at the front of it; in spite of its being smaller and tighter and more starched than her old uniforms, it could no longer hide the fact that she was a woman” (Kesey 320). Being attacked led to the men realizing that she was indeed a woman and not a machine. When her breasts were exposed, she compromised her previous image of masculinity and therefore lost power over the men on the ward. Traditional gender expectations are supported by the implication that Nurse Ratched power over the men because her feminine traits were

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