In Miloš Forman’s One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, the director refers to the many struggles people individually face in life. Through the conflict between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, the movie explores the themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity. With these themes, Forman makes various points which help us understand which situations of repression can lead an individual to insanity. These points include: different situations patients overcome, human dignity, and the pressures we face from society to conform. Through these points, Forman encourages the viewer to consider that people react differently in the face of repression, and makes the viewer realize the value of alternative states of perception, rather than simply writing them off as "crazy."
Nurse Ratched is notorious for her desire to exercise complete control over the men who are under her jurisdiction on the psych ward, both as patients and as employees. In doing so, Nurse Ratched becomes a metaphor for the entire mental institution, the government, society at large or any and every powerful institution that exists to regulate, control, and categorize groups of people. The institutions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest claim that they categorize the patients as insane in order to "treat" and "rehabilitate" them. But it quickly becomes clear in the novel that this rehabilitation is more controlling than it is helpful for any mental ailment: the shock treatment table, the red pills that cause memory loss, the daily meetings that pit men against each other, and the list on Nurse Ratched’s desk to record and reward the men for betraying each other's secrets are all ways to force people to obey, not to make them well. There is no recreation outdoors. There is little exposure to the outside world. All activities and therapy sessions are scheduled with precision, and to deviate from that schedule is to be a nuisance to Nurse Ratched. This...
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