What Is Power In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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The text One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Kesey, 1962) communicates a unique social hierarchy, but the use of power within this society discusses the idea of gender and preservation of power. The text is set within a mental asylum, and within this society the figure of authority is nurse Ratched. It has been noted that men are commonly seen to be in positions of power and highly respected within society. This text reverses the stereotype, but through this reversal conveys the way in which a female in power is not equal to a male in power. A 2012 study by students at Washington University in St. Louis state that ‘Not all power is created equal’, but rather the level of power a person has is dependent on various elements of society such as cultural…show more content…
The male patients often comment on her womanly figure, speaking about her ‘big, womanly breasts’ (Kesey, 1962), and asking ‘just what was the actual inch-by-inch measurement on them great big ol ' breasts that she did her best to conceal but never could’ (Kesey, 1962). Similarly to Erin Brockovich, Nurse Ratched’s physical features and gender is seen to determine her personal character. Within the novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Kesey, 1962) the idea of nurse’s sexuality cannot be used to her advantage, but rather is used to undermine her authority. Nurse Ratched is a minority in power within the society operating inside the mental asylum, and in the outside world she is seen as a second classes citizen as a result of her gender. Therefore, the unconventional power displayed by Nurse Ratched is her confidence in her position of power, and her dominant and firm personality. These traits are not deemed attractive to be possessed by a woman, but to earn the respect of the higher power which rule over the ward, she governs in a strict and aggressive
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