One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

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People are at peace when they are surrounded by others who are like them, accept them, and don’t try to change them. When one is free to be him or herself they will be happy. Society has the power to control this freedom and make one feel trapped. Individuals can be manipulated to believe in irrational ideas or morals. In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Nurse Ratched, the ward and society outside the ward influence and try to control the patients. The power of the patients’ minds determines if they maintain their mental freedom or allow society to control them.

The window that Nurse Ratched sits behind shows the omniscient power she has over the patients. She can watch everything the patients are doing in the day room. It’s like a fish tank, the patients have no privacy from the Nurse’s gazing eyes. All of the patients feel the glare of the nurse from the window, they know they are always being watched which makes them feel inferior and weak. Although the window is transparent, it represents a barrier between the patients and the power the nurse has. McMurphy challenges the nurse's superior power and literally shatters the window to pieces. Bromden describes this act of rebellion. “The glass came apart like water splashing, and the nurse threw her hands to her ears. He got one of the cartons of cigarettes with his name on it and took out a pack, then put it back and turned to where the Big Nurse was sitting like a chalk statue and very tenderly went to brushing the silvers of glass over her hat and shoulders.” (72) The other patients of the ward let Nurse Ratched have the control she does, while McMurphy fights her power.Nurse Ratched also maintains power over the patients by emasculating them. She is a woman with large breasts and tries to hide them under her uniform, trying to make the men feel that she is less of a woman. Her goal is to make the patients and any other male at the ward feel less masculine and weaken them to maintain her power....
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