How Characters Are Affected by Fear in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Topics: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Randle McMurphy, Fear Pages: 3 (1043 words) Published: December 12, 2013
How are the characters in Ken Kesey’s, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” affected by fear? In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey uses several characters to demonstrate the theme that a person must fight his fears in order to remain healthy and sane. Kesey uses the characters Billy Bibbit, Dale Harding and most importantly Chief Bromden to illustrate this theme. Fear is a key theme in the book, from the first line, “they’re out there” we can see how the narrator is paranoid and fearful for whoever they are, and it shows how Chief Bromden from the start is terrified of the ward and everything about it. He goes on to say how “they got special sensitive equipment” that “detects my fear”, this notion that Bromden is afraid to feel fear is so powerful as it demonstrates the influence the ward has on its patients. Bromden also refers to the “hum of black machinery”, and throughout the novel he makes references to mechanical devices designed to catch out the patients. The idea of this was to make the narrator constantly on edge and fearful of everything, the “combine” and Big Nurse were played out from the start to be omnipotent and omniscient. This demonstrates how from the beginning Bromden’s fear rules over his judgement and his sanity, that he cannot make decisions and observations clearly as he is so afraid. Nurse Ratched desires order, and she wants complete power, so she manipulates her patients and the staff to do fulfil her desires. From early on when we are introduced to her Bromden knows she is the human face of the combine, however she still manages to terrify most patients on the ward. Her appearance and presence create fear amongst the patients, her fingernails are described as being, “like the tip of a soldering iron”, this simile is apt, because it demonstrates how Bromden perceives her, as a cold emotionless machine, designed to contain and control the patients of the wards. Finally it shows how the patients fear for big nurse comes...
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