One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey is a novel about a group of men in a mental institution. Nurse Ratched, the evil nurse who is in charge of their ward, controls these men. She does everything she can to make life miserable for them. To an outsider, the ward may look like a nice place to be, but in reality, it is not at all. The ward runs smoothly and is always in control but that is exactly why it is not a pleasant place for the patients to be. They accept false happiness as well as being unaware of what is happening around them. The EST, or electroshock treatment THERAPY, changes the men and with too much, they could become Vegetables. The nurse manages to keep them unaware by making the patients fear her. She does not allow anyone to be more powerful than her and eliminates anyone who tries to do just that. The ward is a dystopia for the patients because of the illusions of happiness and balance, ineffective shock treatment, and Nurse Ratched’s feared power over everyone.
The patients not only feel trapped, but they are also not happy on the inside. They do not allow themselves to have fun occasionally, nor does Nurse Ratched allow it. McMurphy, the main character and newest patient, notices this and attempts to make jokes but no laughter comes out of it. “There is something strange about a place where the men won’t let themselves loose and laugh, something strange about the way they all knuckle under to that smiling flour-faced old mother there with the too-red lipstick and the too-big boobs” (49). This is what Chief states after McMurphy attempts to make a joke to the group of men at one of the therapeutic meetings. It is as if, “the air is pressed in by the walls, too tight for laughing” (49) is what he follows with. He is realizing that it is not a good environment if the patients are too scared to laugh or have fun. He is catching on to the fact that the staff keeps it that way by maintaining the chilling attitude towards the...
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