One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest This movie demonstrates much of what I despise about my fellow feeble-minded Americans. In this movie, I saw stereotypes galore, and almost every cliche in the book. For example, one voluntary patient is seeking therapy for his marital problems. It seems that he and his wife were having “sexual” problems. This ultimately leads everyone, patients and viewers alike, to believe that this man must be gay.

As if this weren’t enough, we have to have the “blind-deaf-and-dumb-guy”, and of course, he’s foreign! The central character in this drama is Randal McMurphy. Mac is a new patient at the mental institution. He was transferred from a nearby prison. He seems to have been committed not for mental illness but because he is resistant to authority. In the past he has been arrested for such things as assault and statutory rape.

He may be a criminal, and he may deserve to be in jail, but he is not insane. He was just too much work for the prison guards “cause I don’t sit there like a goddamn vegetable” he says. I believe the only dangerous thing about Mac is his desire to fight authority, and I believe the danger is only for the authority figures. He may not go about his struggle in a lawful manner, but I do believe he has some good, sane ideas and beliefs which he tries to maintain in all of his situations. For example, in jail, he didn’t feel it was right for the authorities to demand he act as a “vegetable” and I agree with him.

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In the institution, he felt that decisions should be made democratically and fairly, and he fought for this belief, which inevitably lead to punishment by ECT . Another influential character in this movie is Billy. Billy has some obvious self-esteem issues. I feel the portion of the film that we viewed in class only touches on his true character. Billy has a very obvious speech impediment, which seems to make him reluctant in many ways. He is the character that follows orders without question.

He is threatened by Mac in many ways, but excited by his ideas at the same time. Mac’s presence in the institution disrupts the routine that Billy has functioned so well under for so long. It is possible that his naivety could be a dangerous attribute to himself, but I do not feel that Billy is necessarily a dangerous individual. Chief is the stereotyped blind-deaf-and-dumb character. Before Mac, everyone ignored his presence, primarily on the basis of his silence. The other patients and staff apparently never even tried to incorporate Chief into their activities.

When Mac comes along, he tries to utilize one of Chief’s attributes, his height, in a basketball game. After awhile, Chief catches on, to the astonishment of all present, and helps Mac’s team win a game. To the surprise to Mac, in a private moment Chief speaks. This leads the audience to believe that perhaps this silent man would only speak to those worthy of his words. Chief is not dangerous, only cautious. The infamous Nurse Ratched is the head nurse on this floor.

She leads the therapy sessions and attempts to maintain order of her patients. She always uses a calm and rational tone of voice and claims to know what is best for all of her patients. The audience is lead to believe that she has some ulterior motives for her decisions when she requests that Mac stay in the ward during a review of his mental status. It is apparent to all at this point that there is nothing mentally wrong with Mac, though she decides he needs to stay. Perhaps this decision was made out of spite for his disruptive behavior. I do feel that she is dangerous.

She has the power to keep a sane man in a mental institution and rule over his life for as long as she desires-this is very dangerous. Along with medication, the patients in this ward are undergoing a sort of talking therapy. It is lead by Nurse Ratched. Only certain patients are involved, primarily the less severe patients. Several patients assemble themselves in a semi-circle at the beginning of the session.

They may begin where they had left off during a previous session, or they may start with a new issue. I am not sure if this type of therapy is used widely. I understand the benefits of group therapy, but perhaps in this situation a more individual-based therapy should be utilized due in part to the observed reactions of other members of the group to certain topics of discussion. I would assume that this film took place in the middle to late seventies. This talking therapy in reality has no apparent affect on the more severe or chronic mentally ill patients because they are not even involved in these sessions.

Nurse Ratched demonstrates a very calm attitude toward the patients, however, I don’t agree with her idea of democracy and fairness. I don’t necessarily believe that her technique of therapy is beneficial to all or any of the patients. I might change my mind if she changes her method of therapy, however. In my opinion, mental illness involves a chemical imbalance in brain chemistry which creates delusions in an individual. I would also classify disorder-related illness under the category of mental illness.

Insanity is not necessarily an illness in my book. The word insane has often been used to describe people with ideas contrary to the norm, such as Copernicus and Galileo. Normality and abnormality seem to be defined by majority and minority, not necessarily by brain chemistry or ideas. With this in mind, I feel that there are some characters that fit into these descriptions very well, in a strange sense. According to my definitions, Nurse Ratched is abnormal.

She is not a patient, and the others are in this situation. Also, perhaps Mac is insane for this reason–he has ideas contrary to the majority, such as, external interests from the institution like fishing and baseball. ECT was used in this film as a punishment for intolerable behavior, not necessarily as a means to correct a clinical problem. The problem that ECT was attempting to correct in this situation was unruliness. This method was used to silence views disliked by the staff, in particular, Mac’s views. I understand that now ECT is used at much lower frequencies for shorter amounts of time because of the ethical considerations involved but not considered during the period covered by this film.

As I discussed in my analysis of Mac, he was sent to the institution for his unfavorable open beliefs and ideas which fueled the notion that he must have a mental illness. I am sure that many criminals do fake a mental illness to escape jail and enter an institution, however, I do not feel that this was any motivation for Mac. In many ways there are similarities between the two institutions of mental hospital and jail. For instance, unfavorable ideas and opinions are suppressed. However, the means of suppression is vastly different. In a jail, physical consequences may be present for such behavior, and it is not necessarily labeled as illness.

In an institution, the behavior would be dealt with in a manner that would suggest that it is a mental dysfunction that is being displayed, so it may be treated with medication or ECT . In my opinion, Nurse Ratched flew over the cuckoo’s nest. She is the perhaps the “mother bird” watching out for the patients in the hospital, flying around while protecting their mental state of mind, in her own way.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

The Tone in Mind
The imagination is the readers most important tool on the path to enjoying a good book. One can only hinder their enjoyment of the story by disregarding the vivid images created by the mind. Nothing can compare to a landscape so exquisite that it would make a cinematographer jealous, or a prison so cold that you can see the inmates hot breath. However, some authors offer help for those who are creatively impaired. In One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, the author, Ken Kesey builds such an effective tone, that the shifts in the attitudes of the characters can be detected.

In the first half of the novel, Kesey uses a wonderful device to show oppression that makes the reader feel as if they themselves are going insane. Bromden describes it best. “Shes got the fog machine switched onand the more I think about how nothing can be helped, the faster the fog rolls in,” (Kesey 101). This fog is not literally there, but instead appears when Kesey wants to create an atmosphere that is disparaging. This dark tone is also emphasized through Bromdens nightmares. In one of the dreams, the hospital turns into a hot industrial factory where the noise of cold, hard, unyielding machinery is almost deafening, (78-82). During the dream, one of the old Chronics, Blastic, is Hung on a hook and sent away into the machines. The strange thing is that he actually does die. Bromdens dream is actually a metaphor for the quick disposal of those who do not survive the nurses treatment. It is as if she does not want any evidence that her patients are not recovering. So, the effect the reader is left with is one representative of how unceremoniously a death is dealt with in the hospital.

Death and despair also come in the form of shock treatments. A patient was usually given a quick, yet mind-blowing zap for unruly behavior. When Bromden observes the outburst of another chronic, he actually thinks that the guy finally just snapped, and is throwing a fit so theyll give him a fatal shock treatment. While this guy is going out of his mind and attacking the guards, Bromden thinks, “What makes people so impatient is what I cant figure; all the guy had to do was wait,” (115). Bromden sees that the ward and the nurse herself will kill him in time. So, he looks upon this behavior with disapproval.. Through Bromdens hazy attitude, Kesey makes the reader feel the dark cloud of frustration and despair that hangs over the ward.

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Fortunately, this doesnt last too long, for a whole new tone is taken on when McMurphy pledges that he will stop at nothing to crush the nurses tyranny. First, it is a tone that often accompanies a heated battle, and it is displayed at its height when McMurphy and Miss Ratched face off at the meetings. Almost like a prizefight, the nurse and McMurphy square off while the other patients look on starry-eyed. Of course, the entire audience is rooting for McMurphy. This strained sparring comes to a head when McMurphy holds vote to change the daily schedule in order to watch the World Series. The meeting starts out in the deepest “fog” to date, but it begins to dissipate for good. Bromden describes McMurphys triumph;
“And then off down the slope I see them, other hands coming up out of
the fog. Its likethat big red hand of McMurphys is reaching into the
fog and dropping down and dragging the men up by their hands, dragging
them blinking into the open,” (124).

When Bromden himself raises his hand, and breaks the barrier that his false deafness has put on, the tone is completely changed. He may still play deaf for awhile, but the fact that he thinks about playing deaf and acknowledges that he must keep up the facade, shows that he and the tone have changed.

After this, Kesey puts an almost nostalgic tone on the story. The Acutes, Bromden, and the doctor go on an antic filled fishing trip that makes the group seem as if they did this every weekend, and that insanity had never crossed their minds. On the car ride back, Bromden says of McMurphy, “His relaxed, good-natured voice dolled out his life for us to live, a rollicking pastfor all of us to dream ourselves into,” (218). The men see that they can change and finally go back out into the world that they had been so afraid of. When McMurphy dies at the end, Kesey does not allow his characters to mourn or forget all that they have learned. Instead the story keeps a positive attitude because Kesey is trying to communicate to the reader that life will go on.

So, why does Kesey turn a wonderful exploration into the dank side of the human psyche into a light romp that tries to mask the deeper issues at hand? He does this because it is the inherent behavior of humans to mask their apprehensions, especially of impending doom. Everyone, including the reader knows that McMurphy cannot succeed. Kesey hints at it many times. However, it is natural to pretend that it will all turn out for the best. This is what Kesey truly explores through his tone, among other things, in this novel.

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

One Flew Over The Cuckoo`s Nest When a person reads the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, by Ken Kesey, they are taking a different look at the corrupt side of society through the eyes of this intelligent and imaginative author. Kesey leads the reader through a mental hospital in the form of a mentally ill patient called Chief Bromden. Throughout the story the reader is shown a darker side of what is traditionally labeled as good or necessary, namely the hospital, in our culture. It is shown how one good force can have such an extreme effect on the fate of its opposition. In this particular story the good force is a man by the name of Randall P. McMurphy.

He comes into the ward and creates a disruption to all that is ordinary and accepted. The story One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest explores the idea that McMurphy is a Christ-like figure, and that there is an underlying battle between good (McMurphy) and evil (Big Nurse) that seriously affects the outcome of the patients in the ward. One thing that allows the reader to enter into the idea that McMurphy is quite special is how he was noticeably different from all the other patients at the beginning of the story. He had a much greater crave for independence and things like self-gratification than did any of the others. He states that he is “thinking of taking over the whole show himself” (Kesey 22) right at the beginning of the story. This is something none of the other patients would ever even consider saying, and they become very interested in him immediately.

After McMurphy starts getting to know the other people in the ward, he builds a bond with them and starts to express a feeling of wanting to make things change. This is where his stronger Christ-like qualities begin to shine through. He can relate to Christ not only because “He and Christ could function in their societies, but they were able to edify those who followed them and bring meaning into once futile lives” (Essay 2). According to one essay: Both McMurphy and Christ were charismatic and had a small devote following. Christ often challenged the Jewish ritualization of the law and blamed the scribes and Pharisees, with power, for being hypocrites. In this same manner, R.P.

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McMurphy often caused a stir by confronting the system of the asylum and its authorities. (2) This is only one of the many similarities between the two very important men. One could go as far as to relate the fishing trip in the story to the actual assumed profession of Jesus Christ himself, that of a fisherman. Perhaps the most unifying similarity between Christ and McMurphy is the action of sacrificing themselves for their causes. They are both killed by their own people. Christ is killed by the Jews, and McMurphy by Mr.

Bromden, both for a good cause. Both men have interesting life stories that end with martyrdom and salvation for others. In some words “Finally, the eventual death of McMurphy was Chiefs “new birth.” McMurphy died in place of Chief, and liberation ensued. The same parallel exists among those who identify themselves with Christ, his death, and resurrection. This was the way to salvation or liberation from the confinement of a worthless life” (Essay 2). The presence of a Christ-like protagonist leads the story to take on the basis of a battle between good and evil.

In this basic frame of good and evil, Big Nurse, otherwise known as Nurse Ratched takes on the role of the evil force. She is hurtful toward the patients and is always making certain that her power and authority over the patients arent questioned or jeopardized in any way. A perfect example of her hurtful behavior is the downsizing of Billy Bibbit, a patient in the ward, after he has sex with a woman, which proves to be extremely therapeutic for his condition. Her verbal assault drives the boy to the point of suicide within minutes. The good force, performed by McMurphy, is very helpful to them.

When he brings the whole group out on a fishing trip without ward permission the guys get their first real taste of freedom in a long time. The whole trip ends up being so much fun, that almost all of the patients seem one hundred percent better. This makes no difference to the nurse. She quickly scolds them, fighting to be powerful, and accuses McMurphy of being a danger to the safety of the ward. The support for the struggle between the two forces is displayed near the beginning of the book when McMurphy bets some of the other patients that he will beat big nurse.

He knows right from the start that his enrollment in the mental hospital will be a battle against the nurse, and he states it clearly. The struggle between the two forces in this book has a magnificent outcome on the end of the story. “Some of the patients in the ward like Chief, Billy, and Cheswick, “an insecure, neurotic man lacking in self-confidence” (Dirks 1), were literally transformed.” The absolute outcome, though, is the liberation of the Chief. He completely recovers from the deepest state of mental affliction of any patient. This is entirely credited to the relationship he had with McMurphy and their plans to leave when the Chief was ready. The night of McMurphys lobotomy and death the Chief makes a statement about feeling as big as a mountain.

It seemed almost as if the free spirit of McMurphy had passed from him to the Chief and enlightened a few others as well. The transformation of Billy Bibbit from “a pathetic, incessantly stuttering, paranoid boychild” (Dirks 1) into a more confident, experienced, man, then to his regression and suicide combines with the moving, tragic death of McMurphy to form a remarkably dramatic outcome. Even the once unchangeable force, The Big Nurse, is altered by the final events in the story. The outcome of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, based on Randall P. McMurphys intense struggle with the opposite side, can only be appreciated best from one perspective. Although he suffers the loss of life, and the nurse hasnt, his achievements prove that he has ultimately triumphed over the “evil” side that fought him with such considerable force, and he earned the right to be labeled as a Christ-like figure. This just proves that “no matter how repressible society may be, one can find freedom, or salvation through identifying themselves with a Christ-figure, or beliefs in general” (Essay 2). Bibliography Dirks, Tim.

Review Page. One Flew Over. Essay-Cuckoo. From 4 April 1999 Kesey, Ken.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Signet, 1962. New York City.


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