Literature and Film
October 14, 2013
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, nurse Ratched takes away the patients freedom physically, mentally and emotionally. Nurse Ratched was known as the “big nurse” and was a former Army nurse who wasn’t treated great. It became her life to get revenge because of how she was treated and is referred to as a rat and readers are reminded that the rats in the Middle Ages carried the Black Plague. This description represents her well as she was a demonic and crazy person with all of the patients at the mental institution.
Nurse Ratched first takes away the patients freedom when they sign in not knowing they couldn’t leave. After the World Wars, men came back and had a lot of problems with adjusting. They couldn’t adjust with their families emotionally, mentally or physically. So they ended up going and signing their selves into mental institutions. The patients didn’t know that once they signed in that they couldn’t leave. This is where nurse Ratched immediately takes their freedom away.
A patient by the name of Chief Bromden is a schizophrenic who is always paranoid of the Combine. He is one of the patients that are heavily medicated. Everyone believes he is deaf and dumb because he doesn’t speak. He actually isn’t deaf but is just too scared physically and emotionally because he thinks nurse Ratched will go after him. He describes Nurse Ratched as the big nurse carrying a large wicker basket that he believes she has the “bag full of a thousand parts she aims to use in her duties” during the day but nothing a woman would normally carry like lipstick or a compact (Kesey 4).
Nurse Ratched ends up ordering a shave for the Chief and he runs and hides in the closet. He ends up being found by some employees and they dragged him to the shaving room and starts shaving. He keeps quiet because he knows if you complain it will be worse for you. Once they got to his temples though the Chief started yelling and hollering and the medicated fog machine started with white raining all over him (Kesey 7). Nurse Ratched headed that way to shove medication down his throat as well. The Chief said he remembered being locked in seclusion after the shave and didn’t get taken to the shock room this time (Kesey 8). In seclusion he hardly got food because employees would eat it and he would just get pills shoved down his throat constantly so he was heavily medicated and in a state of confusion. Kesey indicates that nurse Ratched seems to control patients instead of actually curing them which is proven by her methods with Chief Bromden.
A new patient comes along named Randle Patrick McMurphy. He is at the institution for diagnosis and possible treatment with dishonorable discharge from the army and bad history. McMurphy starts observing nurse Ratched as everyone new person does and realizes what the Chief saw. She is more concerned about her authority than the patients care and benefits. He saw the men spy and report on each other and when all the patients realized McMurphy was telling the truth, they became listening to him. McMurphy also discovered that the Chief can actually talk and hear. McMurphy said “why, you sure did give a jump when I told you that coon was coming, Chief, I thought somebody told me you was deaf?” (Kesey 75). The Chief always thought they couldn’t take anything away that they didn’t know about him so he kept quiet but also because he was scared physically and emotionally. McMurphy thinks that the Chief can be cured and that overcoming the fear of speaking could actually help his recovery. McMurphy starts becoming friends with everyone and helping them with their strengths. Nurse Ratched catches this and Chief thinks it’s only a matter of time that she will regain her control as soon as McMurphy makes a mistake. McMurphy isn’t fond of the loud music playing...
Cited: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest by Ken Kesey." One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest by Ken Kesey. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
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