Is Mcmurphy Presented In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In the novel One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, narrator Chief Bromden tells the story of Patrick McMurphy, a freshly admitted mental ward patient. Upon his arrival in the ward, it is clear that McMurphy does not conform to Nurse Ratched’s strict rule set. McMurphy’s negligence of the Nurse’s system launches the two characters into an aggressive battle for the power and influence of the ward. Ultimately, McMurphy attacks Nurse Ratched to which Nurse Ratched responds by lobotomizing him. While most readers assume that this ending indicates that Nurse Ratched and the “system” win the battle with McMurphy, I disagree. In contrast, I believe that McMurphy’s actions and unique thoughts ignite a change of the combine. Throughout the novel, …show more content…

Chief characterizes the Nurse as almost robotic in her manipulation and intimidation. In the first chapter of the book, Chief Bromden illustrates how Nurse Ratched uses her position in the ward to control the patients. Chief says, “The big nurse recognizes this fear and knows how to put it to use; she’ll point out to an Acute, whenever he goes into a sulk, that you boys be good boys and cooperate with the staff policy which is engineered for your cure, or you’ll end up over on that side” (18). Nurse Ratched uses her power in the ward to manipulate and control the patients. This is important because with the Nurse's control, the patients are unable to think and act for themselves. When McMurphy joins the ward, he questions the Nurse’s influence and control. Early into his stay, one of the other acutes tells McMurphy that Nurse Ratched will always win. He says, “She’ll go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all the power of the Combine behind her. She doesn't lose on her losses, but she wins on ours”(88). Not only does Nurse Ratched hold the position of power in the ward, but she is also backed by the combine. This is just another example of Nurse Ratched’s ability to …show more content…

When Nurse Ratched does not grant McMurphy access to the TV to watch the world series, McMurphy proposes a vote to settle the dispute. The nurse agrees to this and Chief describes the moment, “First one, then another, then the next. Right on down the line of Acutes, dragging them out of the fog till there they stand, all twenty of them, raising not just for watching TV, but against the Big Nurse, against her trying to send McMurphy to Disturbed, against the way she’s talked and acted and beat them down for years'' (109). McMurphy has inspired the patients to stand up for themselves against the Big Nurse, despite their fear of consequences. This is the first time that anyone has stood up against the big Nurse, and therefore she is shocked and dismayed. At the end of the book, after McMurphy has been lobotomized, the acutes in the ward decide that they will no longer be subdued to the cruelty of Nurse Ratched. As Chief says, “Sefelt and Fredrickson signed out together Against Medical Advice, and two days later another three Acutes left, and six more transferred to another ward” (246). Although McMurphy is no longer able to fight the Big Nurse, he has left a lasting impact that motivates the other patients to escape the system. McMurphy inspires change in the ward by showing the acutes that Nurse Ratched is less powerful than they believe, and that they have

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