Conflict in 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'

Topics: Sociology, Nurse Ratched, Academy Award for Best Picture Pages: 6 (1776 words) Published: May 10, 2005
Jack Nicholson as Randall McMurphy: What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or something'? Well you're not! You're not! You're no crazier than the average asshole out walking' around on the streets and that's it.

This film presents an individual that chooses not to conform to modern society, and the consequences of that choice. The main character R.P. McMurphy would be best described as the antihero, and Nurse Ratchet would be the antagonist.

Both characters have an important role insofar as how the ward responds to their actions. The basis of this plot is a battle of wills between McMurphy and Nurse Ratchet. Before McMurphy entered the ward, Nurse Ratchet ran the place the way that was most comfortable for her, and not in the best interest of the patients. From their first meeting, McMurphy asserts that her dominance is not as things should be.

Randall Patrick McMurphy's struggle against institutional authority in the 1975 Academy Award winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest brings to light one man's rebellion against the repressive and controlling powers of an oppressive institution. McMurphy is committed to a mental institution after being ejected from a work farm due to his belligerent: some at the prison believed him to be crazy.

Within the walls of the man-made cuckoo's nest McMurphy and his new peers are scrutinized without end under the total control of the facility's administration – for their own good, of course. Their access to information is restricted to the point where they are not even allowed to watch the current World Series on television; all their personal freedoms are forfeit.

The daily degradation that strips away their humanity and self-regard is apparent to McMurphy from his first entry into the ward as all his personal belongings are collected and removed from his possession. From that point on he is treated as no longer a man, but a case file to be dealt with in accord with all protocol at the expense of any real therapy or rehabilitation.

The independently-produced film also swept the Oscars: it was the first film to take all the major awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress) since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934). It was nominated for nine Academy Awards in total.

The film's title was derived from a familiar, tongue-twisting Mother's Goose nursery rhyme called Vintery, Mintery, Cutery, Corn:
Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn
Apple seed and apple thorn
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east
And one flew west
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
The one that flies over the cuckoo's nest is the giant, allegedly deaf-mute Chief Bromden. In Ken Kesey's original novel, Chief narrates the story, providing evocative images of an all-powerful bureaucratic 'harvesting machine' fostering functionalist social integration: a combine that would process out individuality, thus creating compliant individuals (the exaggerated representation of this in the film's ward is a microcosm of society at large). Those who did not conform would be relegated to a correctional facility for repair or removal.

McMurphy strives to overcome the head nurse, Nurse Ratchet, and finds himself sympathizing with the others in the ward. This can be described as social influence. Social influence is where other people impact the thought, perception, and behavior of a person.

When McMurphy first arrives at the institution, the other patients adhere to the structure in the institution. Many of the patients are withdrawn from communication, and mindlessly follow the daily routine assigned to them. This society of order through regulation has a culture and common identity, attached to the stigma of their respective mental illnesses.

McMurphy changes this complacence through the influence of his relationships with the other patients, teaching them to interact with one another again. He...
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