Laughter In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the protagonist McMurphy proves that “Laughter is the best medicine.” The narrator’s name is Chief Bromden who pretends to be deaf and dumb but has many hallucinations that alter his perception of the people and things around him. The antagonist, Nurse Ratched, or the Big Nurse, has all power in the ward until McMurphy comes. He was voluntarily admitted to the mental hospital. His rebellious attitude and actions lead him to take the power from the Nurse. With this power, he tries to influence the other patients using laughter, something they were not previously exposed to. While laughter does not cure all mental illnesses, laughter affects the patients in the ward positively because it…show more content…
First, laughter affects the patients in the ward positively because it creates a better atmosphere for them. When McMurphy first arrived, the ward was very dull. The Acutes were playing board games and the Chronics were doing as much as they could, even though that included little to no movement or activity. When McMurphy walked in, he turned heads and was already defying authority. Then, he started laughing and everything seemed to begin changing. When no one says anything, “he begins to laugh. Nobody can tell exactly why he laughs; there’s nothing funny going on. But it’s not the way that Public Relations laughs, it’s free and loud... This sounds real. I realize all of a sudden it’s the first real laugh I’ve heard in years” (Kesey 16). Chief’s realization confirms that McMurphy will spark a change in the patients since it is something different than anything…show more content…
Throughout the first part of the novel, there was a motif of fog that seemed to disappear once McMurphy interacted with the Chief, using laughter of course. When Chief is reflecting on McMurphy’s impacts on him, he realizes that “I was seeing a lot of things different. I figured the fog machine had broke down in the walls… For the first time in years, I was seeing people with none of that black outline they used to have, and one night I was even able to see out the window” (Kesey 141). This clear sign of improvement highlights the extremely positive effect McMurphy has on Chief. Additionally, this leads you to question the validity of the ward because in the many years Chief has been in the mental hospital, he has only shown improvement in the past few weeks with the help of McMurphy. Similarly, Chief has had more confidence and taking part in the rebellion, as he describes that “there were times that week when I’d hear that full-throttled laugh… and I’d quit worrying about the Big Nurse and the Combine behind her” (Kesey 139). McMurphy’s laughter highlights the vast change Chief has gone through in regards to his mental health. Also, it is made obvious in the novel that the Big Nurse is intimidating, so the fact that Chief has learned to ignore it shows McMurphy’s true effect on the
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