A sexless, rigid caricature of a nurse, Nurse Ratched imposes discipline on her ward with all the fervour of an Army Nurse, which she had been. Large, with huge breasts only partially disguised by her ultra-stretched white uniform, she nevertheless has a pretty, delicate face that belies her cruelty. Manipulative to the core, the only thing that really matters to Ratched is her desire to control everything around her – the environment, the staff, and the patients. She has rendered the staff doctor who is in charge of the ward helpless and ineffectual. Her methods are subtle: she speaks with the calm voice of reason, dealing with patients as though they are children. Her group therapy sessions are intentionally humiliating to patients. Her agenda clearly is to turn the group members against each other. That protects her from any unified action against her rules and her dominating role. As long as everyone stays in line, she retreats to her safe place – a glassed-in office overlooking the ward. Chief sums her up mentally as follows: “So after the nurse get her staff, efficiency looks the ward like a watchman’s clock. Everything the guys think and say and do is all worked out months in advance, based on the little notes the nurse makes during the day. This is typed and fed into the machine I hear humming behind the steel door in the rear of the Nurses’ Station.” Small wonder that McMurphy becomes the ultimate threat to her tight, close little domain. He demands that the patients be given rights. She believes they only the rights she decides to give them. Cruel in the extreme, she plays repetitious loud music over the ward’s speaker system, successfully drowning out normal conversation. As her battle with McMurphy intensifies, his hatred of her leads him to aggressive actions against her. Finally he can stand no more. In his last battle against reasonless authority, he tries to strangle her. That may be the end of both of them, not just McMurphy, for...
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