Nurse Ratched In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo

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Nurse Ratched’s desire for control, in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, allows her to manipulate the entire hospital ward into believing her work is for the betterment of the patients. Significantly, Nurse Ratched appears doll-like: hair in a tight bun, a neatly pressed uniform, and “too-red” lipstick (48). Traditionally, dolls, like other toys, are made to occupy the unruly minds of young children. By comparing Nurse Ratched to a child’s toy, Kesey implies she is a mere distraction to the patients from their mental impairments. While the Big Nurse may look flawless, her porcelain exterior is a mask to her true personality. Her appearance indicates a polished, helpful treatment for incoming patients, but this twisted perfection …show more content…

However, to Nurse Ratched, this window illustrates her dominance over the ward. “The Big Nurse watches all [that the patients do] through her window” (42). Kesey’s glass division between the sane and the insane demonstrates Nurse Ratched’s overall want of authority. Correspondingly, the Big Nurse is a wolf amongst the hospital full of rabbits. As Harding explains to McMurphy that the patients are essentially small rabbits in the forest that is the mental institution, he also notes that Nurse Ratched is the “strong wolf” that teaches the rabbits their place, much like the hierarchy of nature (61). Kesey argues that wolves are the threatening forces that dictate the lifestyle of rabbits. The wolf asserts her dominance over the rabbits and controls their potential for freedom. All the while, Nurse Ratched’s dominance is found in her direct control of the machine that is the mental hospital. According to Chief Bromden, Nurse Ratched can “turn that dial to a dead stop and freeze the sun” or “set the wall clock at whatever speed she wants” (71, 70). Here, Kesey gives Nurse Ratched literal control of the settings of the hospital to imply she desires social or spiritual control of the ward as

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