Mcmurphy, Rebel with a Cause

Topics: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Psychiatry, Rebellion Pages: 6 (2241 words) Published: December 16, 2007
McMurphy, Rebel with a Cause

Ken Kesey's experiences in a mental institution urged him to tell the story of such a ward. We are told this story through the eyes of a abnormally large Indian who everyone believes to be deaf and dumb named Chief in his novel "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". Chief Bromden also referred to as "Chief Buh-room" is a patient in an Oregon psychiatric hospital on the ward of Mrs. Ratched, she is the symbol of authority and female domination throughout the novel. This ward forms the backdrop for the rest of the story.

The men on the ward are resigned to their regime dictated by this tyrant who is referred to as 'the Big Nurse', until McMurphy arrives to corrupt it. McMurphy makes the men realize that it is possible to think for themselves, which results in a complete abolishment of the combine as it was. Randle P. McMurphy, a wrongly committed mental patient with a taste for life. The qualities that garner McMurphy respect and admiration from his fellow patients are also responsible for his tragic downfall. These qualities include his temper, which leads to his being deemed "disturbed," his stubbornness, which results in his receiving numerous painful disciplinary treatments, and finally his free spirit, which leads to his death. Despite McMurphy being a loyal man, in the end, these characteristics weaken him more than they help him. He forms the basis to my theory of rebellion.

The Narrator, Chief Bromden explains that it was not he who originally decided to adopt the act of being deaf and dumb but others who treated him as if he were deaf and dumb, which shows that the way a person is depends upon the society or "combine" around him. Chief Bromden's father told him, "If you don't watch it people will force you one way or the other into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite just out of spite." This is very much emphasized in the book, Kesey strongly suggests that the residents of the ward in his novel are there because they could not cope with the pressures put on them by society to conform, and that their madness is caused by others, rather than originating within the men themselves. Kesey also deals with the ineffective way in which these men are 'treated' for their various sicknesses or disorders. He constantly alludes to the way that the institution, in particular Mrs. Ratched attempts to dehumanize these men, blatantly showing the fact that it is deemed better that these men have no signs of individuality so that they will fit into society much easier.

The author does not portray them then in a shameful manner or laugh at them, but rather seems to look on them as victims of society's conformity , and sees society as the root of their problems. These men appear to be on the ward just so that they are kept out of the way, rather than being treated. This is a reflection of how society will sometimes attempt to oppress and attempt to ignore a radical thinker or rebel rather than solving and accepting their problems, this is strongly the case of McMurphy.

McMurphy begins challenging the system in small ways, such as asking that 'ward policy' be changed so that they can watch the world series, and is shocked to find the men so unwilling to vote. Another more symbolic example is his attempt to lift the control panel, a feat which he will clearly be unable to do as a person with limits; but he makes the point that he tried, which is more than any of the other men would think to do. This shows one of the important personality traits of McMurphy and that is stubbornness. Another of his character traits is his wild temper. At Various times it aids him in his battle with the "Big Nurse" for control of the mental ward. However, his temper eventually works against him.

Upon McMurphy's arrival in the ward he establishes himself as a con man and a gambler. One of his first bets with the other patients is to see if, within a week, he...
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