When McMurphy comes into the ward and tries to take control, Bromden sides with McMurphy and finally decides to come out and talk. When he makes that decision, he is breaking free of what has been holding in the fear and he is able to act and make decisions
Relationships with authority figures in our lives can be incredibly complex. This can be seen in the passage from Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, between the narrator, Chief Bromden and Nurse Ratched. By using literary elements such as dehumanizing word choice, objectifying characterization, and an unreliable narrator , Kesey is able to convey the respecting yet fearful power dynamic in Chief's mind. Throughout the entire passage, the words chosen are used to make the Nurse seem like a monster, and an inhuman machine. Her finger and lips are a "funny orange", compared to a soldering iron, which is able to bring on extreme pain with just a touch.
Ken Kesey’s comic novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, takes place in an all-male psychiatric ward. The head of the ward, Big Nurse Ratched, is female. Kesey explores the power-struggle that takes place when the characters challenge gender dynamics in this environment. One newly-arrived patient, McMurphy, leads the men against the Big Nurse. The story is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a patient who learns from McMurphy and fights for his freedom.
Nurse Ratched was very controlling and wanted complete power. This caused many of the patients to rebel and break loose from her control. McMurphy lead the ward in this uprising. From brushing his teeth too early to sneaking prostitutes into the ward, he shows Nurse Ratched that she cannot rule him. This story reminded me of Malala Yousafzai and her retaliation against the Taliban.
The fear instilled in the men slows their recovery. Nurse Ratched purposely commits simple inhumane acts like these to exert her levels of empowerment, by belittling the mental patients. It is also described how horrendously they terrorize the ward members. The inhibition towards recuperation is also because nurse Ratched demoralizes their value as men. She does this through exclusion.
The question of sanity becomes apparent when McMurphy, a confident gambler, who might have faked psychosis in order to get out of the work farm, is assigned to the mental hospital. He quickly stirs up tension in the ward for Nurse Ratched by encouraging the men to have fun and rebel against her rules. Brodmen appears to be sane for the most part, despite his hallucinations of a fog, which seems to be the result of something both the ward and the world has done to him. He is able to think logically and though others believe him to be deaf and dumb, he uses this to his advantage. Chief states, “They don't bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I'm nearby because they think I'm deaf and dumb.
Ken Kesey uses his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to describe the lives of patients in a mental institution, and their struggle to overcome the oppressive authority under which they are living. Told from the point of view of a supposedly mute schizophrenic, the novel also shines a light on the many disorders present in the patients, as well as how their illnesses affect their lives during a time when little known about these disorders, and when patients living with these illnesses were seen as an extreme threat. Chief Bromden, the narrator of the novel, has many mental illnesses, but he learns to accept himself and embrace his differences. Through the heroism introduced through Randle McMurphy, Chief becomes confident in himself, and is ultimately able to escape from the toxic environment Nurse Ratched has created on the ward. Chief has many disorders including schizophrenia, paranoia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and, in addition to these illnesses, he pretends to be deaf and dumb.
This silence is literally and figuratively represented through Chief Bromden, a longtime patient of a psychiatric ward during the 1960s in the United States. Bromden, along with all the other patients in the ward, religiously abide by the rules and regulations enforced by the ward administration, particularly Nurse Ratched, a strict and abusive manipulator who does anything in order to maintain her power. This power dynamic quickly evolves
Additionally, his ability to have full awareness triggers the newfound sense of confidence in himself that he uses to finally escape from the ward. One night when Bromden is lying awake in the ward, he describes, “I was seeing lots of things different. I figured the fog machine had broke down in the walls when they turned it up too high for that meeting on Friday... 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 162).
In addition, Ken Kesey uses the electroshock therapy table to serve as an example of the consequences that would occur if an individual were to rebel against the power of Nurse Ratched. It is associated with crucifixions similar to that of Jesus Christ in the Roman time period with “clasps on his wrists, ankles, clamping him into the shadow [and a] crown of silver thorns over the graphite at his temples” (283). Kesey references the crucifixion of Christ to characterize McMurphy as a Christ figure. He is being sacrificed in exchange for the patient’s freedom. In the hospital, Ellis, an acute, is an example of the consequences of not abiding by the hospital’s regulations that serve as a reminder for the rest of the ward members to conform to the rules inflicted by Ratched.
The author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey, presents the ideas about venerability and strength by using his characters and the way they interact with each other to establish whether they are a submissive or a dominant, tamed or leading, venerable or strong. Kesey uses strong personalities to show the drastic difference between someone who is vulnerable and someone who is strong. Nurse Ratchet is a perfect example of how Kasey presents the idea of strength over the venerability of others (the patients). Keys also exhibited vulnerability throughout characters such as Chief Bromden and his extensive habit of hiding himself in all means possible from Nurse Ratchet. Another idea presented by Kesey is a character’s false thought on what
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.
Nurse Ratched has control over every guy in the hospital because she decides what they are doing every day when they wake up. She has brainwashed the men into think they need her. Vera has manipulated her husband Dale into thinking he is disgusting. Billy’s mother has emasculated him by deciding everything for him and letting him have no control over his own life. The men in this novel have lost their manhood to women who have manipulated them and they are too blind to see it till McMurphy shows them.
His rebellious and free mind makes the patients open their eyes and see how the have been suppressed. His appearance is a breath of fresh air and a look into the outside world for the patients. This clearly weakens Nurse Ratched’s powers, and she sees him as a large threat. One way or another, McMurphy tends to instigate changes of scenery. He manages to move everyone away from her music and watchful eye into the old tube room.
The movie was mostly focused on the feud between the warden/nurse Ms. Ratched and McMurphy. McMurphy tried to go against the hard-set plan set by the institution. More he tried to establish dominance and leadership within the group. This threatened the nurse’s ways of subduing patients, and they felt of less importance in their own institution. This led to a bitter rivalry and because of it the nurse tried to subdue, with same techniques as with other patients, McMurphy even after realizing that he was not a mentally unstable person.