Unifism In One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Powerful Essays
A Psychedelic Perception of the World
In the late 1960s, the United States was characterized by the voluminous amounts of counterculture hippies, the Vietnam War, Woodstock music fair, and political pacifism (Haugen 89). Contributing to an age of “hippiedom”, a new wave of young, energetic Americans emerged and avidly protested the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (89). Encouraging unity among nations, these “hippies” repudiated the actions that placed America in the war and the measures they took in attempt to “better” society (95). During this time, radicals were characterized by excessive use of marijuana and psychedelics, and extremist actions they took to protest against the militaristic inclination of mainstream America (98). Love
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Embedded in his novel is compelling rhetoric that validates Kesey’s disapproval of the actions of government institutions. Employing allusion, Kesey’s character Chief Bromden - an embodiment of Kesey’s attack against the governmental treatment of the mentally insane - alludes to the nursery rhyme his mother sang to him: “Ting. Tingle, tingle, tangle toes, she 's a good fisherman, catches hens, puts 'em inna pens...wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock... one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo 's nest... O-U-T spells out... goose swoops down and plucks you out” (285). The “good fisherman” symbolizes Nurse Ratched, the head figure of the asylum who also manifests the abusive, demeaning behavior of the U.S. government toward, not only U.S. citizens, but especially the mentally ill. The “hens” mentioned in the rhyme, represent the disadvantaged and abused American civilians and in the novel, asylum patients. This allusion is effective for helping readers to compare the treatment mentally ill receive from the U.S. government with the treatment of animals. In One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962), Randle McMurphy, the symbol for activism toward the better understanding of mental illnesses and improved quality for the mentally ill, is metaphorically compared to Jesus Christ many times in the book and seen to be the hero of the…show more content…
In his collection of essays, Demon Box (1986), Kesey includes his journals from his time in prison for possession of marijuana. With an autobiographical tone, Kesey recalls his sudden remorse for the actions he took in the 1960s: ' 'The air is thick with broken promises coming home to roost, flapping and clacking their beaks and circling down to give me the same as Prometheus got . . . worse! Because I sailed up to those forbidden heights more times than he had - as many times as I could manage the means - but instead of a flagon of fire the only thing I brought back was an empty cocktail glass . . . and I broke that” (Kesey 378). Kesey employs allusion when he brings up Prometheus, from Greek mythology who paid for his transgressions by being tied to a rock and had his re-growing liver eaten by eagles everyday. He utilizes punishment of Prometheus to compare the sanction he is going to get for the actions he took. Still advocating for the institutional and societal equality of the mentally-ill, in addition to the militaristic attitudes of peace - Kesey, in jail, remorses for the drugs he took and the self destructive actions he
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