The Potrayal of Nurse Ratched

Topics: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Conformity, Beat Generation Pages: 3 (778 words) Published: March 29, 2013
Ratchet or Ratched 
Critic Ronald Wallace noted that Nurse Ratched is also "like a ratchet wrench she keeps her patients 'adjusted,' but like a ratchet, a gear in the Combine, she is herself mechanically enmeshed." Nurse Ratched is portrayed as a devious mastermind of the ward; however, she herself is actually just a minion of the Combine. In many parts of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Bromden describes Ratched as being like a machine; her systematic scheming, and her name Ratched is similar to the word “ratchet”, which is a mechanical device.  Because of this, Nurse Ratched must only be considered a small part of the patients suffering because she is only a mere tiny gear functioning in a large machine. Through Chief Bromden’s perspective, which parallels with Ken Kesey’s p oint of view about society, the Combine acts as the antagonist of the novel. Through Chief Bromden’s perspective, the Combine acts as the sole conformist antagonist of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

At the beginning of the novel, McMurphy solely ignites a social revolution amongst the patients. McMurphy challenges the function of the ward by encouraging the other patients to stand up for themselves by voicing their true opinions and desires. To exemplify how he is going to rebel against authority in the ward, McMurphy generates a bet with the others to see if he could emotionally crack the infamous Nurse Ratched, “You trust me to hold bets, buddies?” (69). To stick to his word, McMurphy deliberately goes out of his way to annoy the authority of the Combine. One morning, McMurphy uses his strong sexuality to belittle Nurse Ratched by making her feel uncomfortable through his masculinity, “You can’t run around here-in a towel!... Get back in your dorm and get your clothes on this instant!” (87). From this, the patients gain an understanding for what McMurphy stands for, and are enlightened by his “non conformist” perspective. 

The patients of the ward, collectively, act as the...

Bibliography: Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 1962. Print.
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