One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Roman Tolstykh
Heather Haskins
Film and Literacy
10 February, 2011
Freedom through Sex
One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a tale of rebellion against the obvious authority cloaked within the walls of an insane asylum and redemption through it. The setting is one played out many times before in various hero stories. A man enters a foreign place, meets oppressed indigenous people, decides to help them see the light, and gives his life for the greater good. In this case the protagonist is not the narrator, but rather McMurphy, a con-man and gambler who fixes his way out of hard labor and into a seemingly cushy hospital setting. Little does he realize he just signed his freedom away to Gestapo dressed as nurses.

From the moment he steps into the hospital his freedom is questioned. The nurses acting as dictators, especially Nurse Ratched, try to take complete control of every patient, of every aspect, and the more one struggles the harder their life becomes. For McMurphy what is a challenge to established sanction in the beginning, becomes a fight for the freedom of all patients in the end. The power of the nurses dictatorship runs in three themes throughout the book; false diagnoses of illness, women emasculating men, and social destruction of natural impulses and drives.

The emasculation of men is a theme found through out the entire novel. Not only are the men weakened through embarrassment, but also destroyed through castration. Seeing the men gathered for their talks with the nurses was just one of the many ways the men were destroyed emotionally. Bromden himself commented on this torture of patience which in a sense took their balls.

The struggle there is not against just one woman but an entire system. A matriarchy set up with easily controllable subordinates to Ratched and watchdogs who are the men full of anger working underneath her. This power struggle is not an unknown phenomenon to the men there as most of the patients have had controlling...
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