Randle McMurphy big, loud, sexual, dirty, and confident. His loud, free laughter stuns the other patients, who have grown accustomed to repressed emotions. Throughout the entire moment of his introduction, not a single voice rises to meet his. McMurphy represents sexuality, freedom, and selfdetermination characteristics that clash with the oppressed ward, which is controlled by Nurse Ratched. The movie establishes that McMurphy is not, in fact, crazy, but rather that he is trying to manipulate the system to his advantage. His belief that the hospital would be more comfortable than the prison work farm, where he was serving a sixmonth sentence, haunts McMurphy later when he discovers the power Nurse Ratched wields over him that she can send him for electroshock treatments and keep him committed as long as she likes.
Whether insane or not, the hospital is undeniably in control of the fates of its patients. McMurphy’s fate as the nonconforming insurrectionist is foreshadowed by the fate of Maxwell Taber, a former patient who was also, according to Nurse Ratched, a manipulator. Maxwell Taber was subjected to electroshock treatments and possibly brain work, which leaves him submissive and unable to think. When nurse Ratched equates McMurphy with Maxwell Taber, we get an inkling of McMurphy’s prospects. He starts out sane and powerful but ends up helpless, having sacrificed himself for the benefit of all the patients.
Nurse Ratched a former army nurse, Nurse Ratched represents the harsh, cruel system, dehumanization, and emasculation of modern society. Her nickname is “Big Nurse,” which to refer to an oppressive and allknowing authority. It describes Ratched as being like a machine, and her behavior fits this description: even her name is reminiscent of a mechanical tool, sounding like both “ratchet” and “wretched.” Nurse Ratched has complete control over every ...
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