1984 & Cuckoo's Nest Comparison Essay

Topics: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Totalitarianism, George Orwell Pages: 6 (2094 words) Published: October 7, 2012
1984 vs. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

In a totalitarian country, any ordinary citizen’s powers are limited, if at all possible. Although any individual is treated like a part of the society, he has no chances to play a vital role in it. A person is to follow officially dispersed propaganda and obey the rules, which intend to control everything. The totalitarian system uses any means including manipulation, intimidation and even the worst forms of repression just to achieve the main goal -  staying in power. George Orwell’s 1984 and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are very similar novels which describe two different societies being mainly focused on individuals opposing the existing systems. In Orwell’s novel, the State of Oceania is ruled by the totalitarian government, with Big Brother as the leader with absolute power. Similarly, in Kesey’s work, the mental hospital is portrayed as a kind of totalitarian society, which is controlled by a “watchful robot” (Kesey 42), Nurse Ratched. The systems represented by Big Brother and Nurse Ratched do not recognize needs of individuals. Those who have power demand total obedience without paying attention to anyone and gradually lead to downfall of those who are under control. In both novels, the efforts of those in charge, ultimately result in suffering and oppression of many individuals, where the effect of leaders, setting and rebellion of individuals directs to a negative impact of one’s psyche. However, at the end, Oceania’s government still stays in power and continues to have control over the citizens, the Mental Institution begings to slowly lose it’s power.

Big Brother and Nurse Ratched are leaders whose main aims are to hold as much power as possible and to be in control of everything. In Party’s propaganda, Big Brother is presented as a real person and a founder of the totalitarian society. Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell’s novel, states that “in the Party histories, of coarse, Big Brother figures as the leader and guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days” (Orwell 38).Big Brother is in complete control of political ideology in the totalitarian government. Nurse Ratched, the main antagonist of Ken Kesey’s novel is the head of the hospital ward. Despite the fact that she is a woman, the men on the ward see her as a dominating dictator. They say that “she walks around with that same doll smile crimped between her chin and her nose and that same calm whir coming from her eyes, but down inside of her she's tense as steel. [They] know, [they] can feel it” (Kesey 25). These traits show that she is a tough, cold and oppressive leader which brings some fear into patients. The other factor of abusing the people’s psyche, is the manipulation of Big Brother and Nurse Ratched with the human being’s feeling and fears. Hence, Nurse Ratched possesses total control over her patients and “tends to get real put out if something keeps her from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine” (Kesey 25). She is a person who is like a robot without any human emotions. Ratched shows only responsibilities without any obligations before the poor souls of her patients. For the sake of fulfilling her duty as a nurse, she forces the poor patient Billy to betray McMurphy for organizing the party, provoking him to commit suicide. “Billy, I have to tell her…Mrs. Bibbit’s always been so proud of your discretion. I know she has. This is going to disturb her terribly. You know how she is when she gets disturbed; you know how ill the poor women can become“ (Kesey 315). This action is an additional proof of her being a heartless, selfish and ambitious person, whose powerful negative influence has forced Billy to commit suicide. The Party, that Big Brother is in control of, has a very interesting way of dealing with people who do not follow their rules. They simply make people disappear. One name is removed and forgotten. “[One] is...
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