One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

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Survival of the Sickest

“So you see my friend, it is somewhat as you stated: man has but one truly effective weapon against the juggernaut of modern matriarchy, but it certainly is not laughter. One weapon, and with every passing year in this hip, motivationally researched society, more and more people are discovering how to render that weapon useless and conquer those who have hitherto been conquerors. . . .” - McMurphy

In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey portrays the women as emasculators whose job is not to cure the patients, but increase their discomfort as a way of building their own power. The mental ward is made up of male patients, and their suffering of mental illness and disabilities derives from a matter of emasculation enforced upon them by the females in the novel. The women are capable of stripping the patients of their masculinity and identity by exploiting the patient’s weaknesses. The only weapon men have against women is their sexuality, but by emasculating the men in the ward the women give them no chance for power. Indeed, most of the patients have been damaged from overpowering relationships with women; Bromden’s mother is portrayed as a castrating woman, Billy Bibbet’s masculinity and sexuality have been suppressed by his mother, and Nurse Ratched strips McMurphy of his manhood through a lobotomy operation. The women make it impossible for the men to gain power by emasculating them to take away their control over their sexuality.

Chief Bromden’s mother, Mary Louise Bromden begins to emasculate Bromden as a child by undermining him and viewing him as an outsider. Bromden portrays his mother to be the dominant force not only in her marriage, but in her family as well. She has power over him and his father because she builds herself up emotionally, becoming bigger than either he or his father by constantly putting them down. Mary Louise Bromden was capable of stripping Chief Tee Ah Millatoona of all his...
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