The Use of Manipulation: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Throughout Ken Kesey's novel, “One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest,” the use of manipulation is a re-occurring motif. Manipulation is defined as 'shrewd of devious management. Manipulation is put into context by how the character's use it. The first character to master it is the antagonist Nurse Ratchet. She uses it to manipulate patients to manage her mechanically structured ward. The other character is the (antagonist, protagonist?) patient McMurphy. He on the other hand manipulates people to help them grow or gain money. These two characters also go head to head with the power of deceptive manipulation as their weapons. Nurse Ratchet is the boss of the ward, in which the events of the novel take place. Her role is to make everything in the ward that goes on have 'therapeutic value'. What she really uses this excuse for is to run her ward as mechanically and robotic-ally calculated as she can so all her patients will stay sick, immasculized, in her clutches and best of all not fight back. One method of her manipulation techniques is her smile. According to the protagonist Chief Bromden, Miss Ratched stretches her smile into whatever expression/attitude fits the situation shes using it for, “So she really lets herself go and her painted smile twists, stretches to an open snarl, and she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load ... all the patients start coming out of the dorms to check on what's the hullabaloo, and she has to change back before she's caught in the shape of her hideous real self. By the time the patients get their eyes rubbed to where they can halfway see what the racket's about, all they see is the head nurse, smiling and calm and cold and usual, telling the black boys they'd best not stand in a group gossiping when it is a Monday...”(5) Through this passage, we see the Nurse change her smile to something evil, but as soon as the patients come to see whats going on, she has transformed from her true form into her usual self, assuring the patients that she is their altruistic Nurse Ratchet. Her smile allows her to appear that what ever she makes so good and therapeutic for the patients, making it harder for them to oppose and even make it seem shes on their side. “'Even if you take into consideration the harmful effects of the medicine, don't you think its better than that?' As he stares down at the floor, Fredrickson's blond eyebrows are raised like he's seeing for the first time just how he looks at least once a month. The nurse smiles and pats his arm just and heads for the door, glares at the acutes to shame them for gathering around watching such a thing;when she's gone, Fredrickson shivers and tried to smile. 'I don't know what I got so mad at the old girl about- I mean, she didn't do anything to give me reason to blow up like that, did she?'”(154) The reader can see that her smile made her appear so altruistic and passionate about caring, that there was no way one could oppose her, therefor the nurse winning, and Fredrickson shrinking back to his tiny slot in the ward, no longer an obstacle in her task of conforming the patients. Another method of manipulation used by Nurse Ratched is her group meetings, her snitch book, threats of lobotomy, and the shock shop. For her meetings, the picks on poor patient about personal issues he's having, discussing it public-ally for the 'therapeutic value'. The unfortunate part is, all the other patients pick on the patient so that she won't pick on them. Her accomplishment through doing this is that she turns the patients onto each other, and the one patient thats being picked on feels weaker and weaker, and therefor has more pressure to stay in the ward for the hope of being 'cured'. If by chance, the patients don't go attacking each other in the meeting as she has hoped and planned, she simply threatens to discuss...
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