One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Psychological Analysis

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The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey tells the story of a group of patients in a 1960s psychiatric hospital. The novel is told from the perspective of one of the patients who, up until the very end of the story, is mute. This character is named Bromden and because of the fact that he doesn’t speak, people think he is deaf. Bromden is in the psychiatric hospital because, although its is unclear whether he actually is skitzophrenic, he has been diagnosed as such. Bromden and many other psychiatric patients live in this ward, under the “command” of Nurse Ratched, nicknamed “Big Nurse”. Nurse Ratched is very bossy and strict with the patients in the ward. Many of the patients find her intimidating, until a new patient shows up…show more content…
Towards the beginning of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, people are compared to parts of machines to show power.. The patients in the ward, spcifically Bromden are very intimidated by machines. When McMurphy first arrives at the psychiatric hospital and he is singing a song, Nurse Ratched becomes furious with the lightheartedness he brings with him: “She works the hinges in her elbows and fingers… She starts moving and I get back against the wall, and when she rumbles past she’s already as big as a truck, trailing that wicker bag behind in her exhaust like a semi behind a Jimmy Diesel” (Kesey 96). Bromden becomes very intimidated by the nurse and “backs against the wall” while she becomes machine-like. In this situation, the antagonist is compared to a machine…show more content…
Towards the end of the novel, the patients overcome the nurse’s authority and use machinery to their advantage in order to defeat society and the combine. After one of the other patients in the ward commits suicide, McMurphy becomes angry at the nurse because he thinks it is her fault. McMurphy approaches the nurse, “Slow, mechanical gestures- and when he walked across the floor you could hear the iron in his bare heels ring sparks out of the tile” (Kesey 318). Kesey describes McMurphy’s actions as “mechanical” in order to show the powerful anger surging through McMurphy. McMurphy is using his “mechanical” power to defeat the Big Nurse and to show that she doesn’t have power over the other patients. The “sparks” that McMurphy symbolize the “spark” McMurphy made when he came to the hospital in the first place. McMurphy challenging the nurse when he first arrived at the ward is what encouraged the rest of the patients, specifically Bromden, to take a stand against the nurse. McMurphy uses his “mechanical” power to help the other patients and defeat the nurse. Another way to overcome the nurse and the combine is to lift the control panel. At the beginning of the book, McMurphy tries to lift up the control panel, but was unsuccessful. The novel ends with Bromden lifting the control panel out of the ground and throwing it out the window in order to break it. This gives Bromden a chance to escape the ward and live a regular life, free of the Big Nurse and all of her rules.

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