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

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Ken Kesey and Peter Weir use levels of power to symbolise different positions in society in their texts One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Dead Poet’s Society. Both texts are microcosms - small, contained reflections of society and therefore reflect Kesey and Weir’s views of society in the time period in which both texts are set. Both authors explore the power in assigned positions of power, the power of those who are deemed powerless, and the people who use power to help create a better situation for those around them. In both texts, the characters in assigned positions of power are depicted as controlling, manipulative, and tyrannical. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Nurse Ratched or “The Big Nurse” (p. 4). as described by the Chief, …show more content…

In the aforementioned opening scene of Dead Poet’s Society, the students are shown with a high camera angle symbolising their inferiority. When the students are seen in classes, the teachers speak and the students repeat. There is no room for freethinking students or anyone trying to resist conformity. Discipline is enforced so heavily throughout the students’ lives at Welton that conformity comes naturally. This is displayed in Mr Keating's courtyard experiment, when Pitts, Cameron, and Knox all end up marching in unison; a scene that is literally looked down upon by Mr Nolan in his office. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the patients are the powerless, forced to undergo the same routine daily, dictated by Nurse Ratched. Kesey shows the patients’ lack of power by often contrasting them against people with power like McMurphy, or Nurse Ratched. When McMurphy first enters the ward “he’s got iron on his heels and he rings it on the floor like horseshoes” (p. 10). He is presented as a cowboy-like character bursting with confidence, a direct juxtaposition against the meek and submissive patients on the ward. In both texts the “general masses” are the powerless. This carries significant meaning as both texts are microcosm, therefore reflecting, both Weir and Kesey’s belief was that the general masses in 1950 -1960’s society were having their everyday lives dictated by people in assigned positions of

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