One Flew Over The Cukoos Nest

Topics: Nursing

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McCarthy represents freedom in a society controlled by fear and repression. Discuss Ken Keys allegorical novel “One flew over the kickoffs nest” depicts society as a repressive “combine”, molding citizens to assimilate them into society. The institution can be seen as a microcosm of the outside world; the Nurse depicted as a fascist leader and the patients as the members who are controlled by her tyrannical rule.

The effects of her manipulative therapy sessions and fearsome tactics cause the patients to live sexually repressed and emasculated.

McCarthy who is loud, jubilant and expressive is a great contrast to the other patients who are in a constant anxiety. Whilst McCarthy represents Freedom, he also represents society attitudes to freewill and Independence. Keyes conveys his views on the repressive nature of society through the ward and characters.

Throughout the novel, the narrator, Chief Broaden, references society as the “Combine”, juxtaposing both the ward the outside world as a big machine- mass producing the ideal American citizen that will fit society mould.

The ward, a microcosm of society, is a place for the faulty parts and misfits of the combine to be treated, “It’s for fixing up mistakes made In the neighborhoods”. Keyes questions the sanity of the patients and the collects label of Insanity. The majority of the patients are self-admitted and do not seem to be extremely Insane, It Is rather that they have not found a place In society and that their community has been unable to accept their minor differences, conveying the rigidity and lack of acceptance and freedom amongst people.

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One Flew Over The Cukoos Nest

The says and ass’s were mimes of change. With the civil rights movement and other social movements people were broadening the idea of who could be accepted into mainstream society. Alongside this the red scare of the Cold war caused people to look upon each other with suspicion, behavior out of the norm was almost intimidating. Chief describes the combine as “a huge organization that aims to adjust the Outside as well as she has the Inside” The Issue Is not the patient’s mental health but the conformity in society and the ostracism towards those that did not conform.

Hence the patients eve been admitted Into the ward In the hope that they may be “adjusted” so they can return to the “Big world outside that you will be one day taking your place In again”. Keyes views the patients treatment as corruptive and as a disease that will overpower freedom and individuality. The strong imagery of Maxwell Table, one of the Nurse’s “success depicts him as a machine, “installed lend nimble skills to his fingers”, that slowly “adjusts them[society] as he was adjusted”. Society is conveyed as controlling and manipulative towards its citizens.

Keyes explores sanity arbitrary nature and its effects. Those that do not conform to mainstream society are labeled and treated in order to suit the Combines agenda. Nurse Ratchet represents the Combines tyrannical authority over the world. Her domineering and manipulative behavior cause the patients to be sexually repressed and inhibited. Nurse Ratchet’s Is Introduced as “smooth calculated and precision made”, as a product of the combine who has been programmed to convert the patients Into the Ideal citizen.

From the first Impression of the nurse she has been portrayed In a negative light. Constantly described as the “Big Nurse” this alludes to Chiefs strong. The strong imagery associated with the metaphor of the Nurse as a tractor paints a violent picture, “She’s swelling up, swells till her backs splitting… She blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside”. It is evident that Nurse Ratchet is not the orthodox women of her time. Unlike most women of her time she works and holds a position high in responsibility and power.

Whilst the women worked during the second world war to sustain the economy while he men were away, their return meant that there were no longer any Jobs for women and that they had to return to their household duties. Regardless of this Nurse Ratchet works and even with the presence of other male leaders such as Doctor Spices, the Nurse holds the utmost authority although she uses it to oppress . The Chief recounts the number of “ideal staff’ that have been on the ward and how the Nurse is able to emasculate them all, “since I started on the ward with that woman I feel like my veins are running ammonia…. Y kids won’t sit on my lap, my wife won’t leap with me. ” When McCarthy realizes her power over the men’s ego and masculinity he describes her as a “ball cutter”, her domineering qualities cause her to castrate the men and repress them sexually. The key force of repression and within the ward is Nurse Ratchet’s tyrannical hold over the ward. Unlike the other patients in the ward McCarthy is openly sexual and does not conform to the wards rules, however his actions soon lead him to strife. McCarthy is confident, loud and open. He is blatantly different to the other patients.

From his arrival into the ward he behaves differently to the other patients. He laughs loudly, unlike the other patients who snicker behind their fists out of fear. The entire ward seems to be taken aback by this, “all is stunned dumb by his laughing”. Through this initial gesture it is clear that McCarthy will be resistant toward the wards authority. As McCarthy realizes the Nurses position in the ward there is a power struggle between the two. The nurse aims to “adjust” McCarthy whereas he is determined to resist the rule and changes.

Naively McCarthy bets to annoy the Nurse, without releasing the power she has over him. McCarthy first sign of protest is when he can’t watch the world series on the television, regardless the turns on the TV and watches the blank screen. Through a series of acts out of rebellion McCarthy continues to enrage the nurse. When McCarthy has electroshock therapy he continues to resist the authorities and will not admit that he is at fault. As a consequence his electroshock therapy continues. After the party at the ward, the Nurse finally overcomes McCarthy.

His continual rebellion and revolt against the Nurse leads to his Lobotomy. Whilst McCarthy represents freedom, his resistance to conform to the ward leads to severe consequences. Keyes explores the repressive and exploitive nature of society through the microcosm of the ward. Nurse Ratchet’s fascist hold on the ward suppresses the men on the ward. Her therapeutic techniques emasculate and castrate the men. Whilst McCarthy represents freedom in this oppressed environment his excessive resistance to conformity leads to his plight.

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One Flew Over The Cukoos Nest. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

One Flew Over The Cukoos Nest
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