One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest: Power

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Power

Peoples' ability to use power to control and manipulate situations and people is a skill not many people have. Unfortunately this skill can lead to conflict as it did in Ken Kesely's novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest when McMurphy and Nurse Ratched meet each other.

McMurphy has been after Nurse Ratched's power right from the beginning. After the first group meeting he pointed out that the meeting was like a "pecking party". The Nurse starts it with pointing out something wrong with someone and then the men join in with their criticism. Her book was the same idea. The men would listen to each other and when one said something that they shouldn't have they write it down so it can be brought up for "therapeutic reasons", but when McMurphy came all that changed. That made the nurse furious, that was her way of keeping perfect control and power over the patients.

McMurphy had complete power over the patients from when he first came in. Nobody like him had ever been in the ward before. He came in singing and laughing, something that no one had heard in a long time. He walked around the room shaking hands, introducing himself to everyone, even the chronics. He taught the acutes how to play cards and he taught them to gamble. His very first bet though was that he could get the best of nurse Ratched within the week, and he did. She wasn't going to back down though. To try and stop all the gambling going on she rationed the cigarettes, so they no longer had anything to bet, but that never stopped them, they used money instead.

The patients admired McMurphy because no one had ever stood up to her before, and he would do things for them such as arranging basketball games. He was also the one who enabled the patients to use the tub room for card games, and so they could get away from that horrifying music that the nurse always played. The tub room is also significant in the power struggle because it was the...
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