An international bestseller and the basis for a hugely successful film, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was one of the defining works of the 1960s. A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse. McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy's revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results. With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey created a work without precedent in American literature, a novel at once comic and tragic that probes the nature of madness and sanity, authority and vitality. Greeted by unanimous acclaim when it was first published, the book has become and enduring favourite of readers.
Throughout the Novel it becomes apparent that the ward is actually a microcosm for 950s society. Through this Kesey displays a variety of his opinions through themes. These themes allow Kesey to show the reader the inadequacies and misdirection of the then societies ideologies and how our filtered society has made every citizen a slave to authority. The themes displayed by Kesey include Sexual freedom versus sexual repression, independence versus acquiescence and finally selfishness versus selflessness.
One theme presented in one flew over the Cuckoos nest is that of Sexual Repression vs. Sexual Freedom. One of the prevailing motifs of Kesey's novel involves the metaphorical contrast between clamped-down sexual mores and freewheeling, instinctive, "natural" sexual freedom. The conflict is represented by the war between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. The "Big Nurse" represents a frigid, controlled sexuality, an...
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