One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Final Scene

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In the final scene of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief Bromden is the main character. The only two characters in this scene are Bromden and McMurphy, and even though McMurphy would be considered the main character of the entire film, Bromden is the main character of this scene because he has the strongest desire. In fact, in this one scene, Bromden has many desires that to him, are life or death. Initially, after hearing rumours of McMurphy’s escape, when McMurphy returns to his bed, Bromden thinks that he has returned in order to escape with him. At this point, Bromden’s desire is simply to escape the ward. He then realizes that McMurphy has not returned to escape, but that he has actually been lobotomized. When he sees this, he smothers McMurphy to death, knowing that McMurphy would not want to live like this, or have the others see him in this state. At this point in the scene, Bromden’s desire is to protect McMurphy’s pride. Once he fulfills this, he returns to his initial desire, as well as what used to be McMurphy’s desire to escape. He achieves this by using McMurphy’s escape plan; lifting the impossibly heavy hydrotherapy console and throwing it through the window. In doing this, Bromden not only achieves his own desire, but also completes the goal that McMurphy was unable to complete. Throughout the movie, Chief Bromden’s status quo is that he is inactive and lacks opinions and feelings. All of the other patients at the hospital think he is “deaf and dumb”. McMurphy is the only one to later discover that Bromden is neither deaf, nor mute. Before the tension in the final scene takes place, Bromden seems too passive and nonchalant to escape on his own, and he definitely seems much too harmless to murder anyone. In this scene, Bromden is

forced to change when he sees that McMurphy has been lobotomized. His respect for McMurphy, and despair that he has been lobotomized and is no longer the powerful leader he used to be initiates the change in...
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