One Flew Over The Cuckoo`s Nest When a person reads the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, by Ken Kesey, they are taking a different look at the corrupt side of society through the eyes of this intelligent and imaginative author. Kesey leads the reader through a mental hospital in the form of a mentally ill patient called Chief Bromden. Throughout the story the reader is shown a darker side of what is traditionally labeled as good or necessary, namely the hospital, in our culture. It is shown how one good force can have such an extreme effect on the fate of its opposition. In this particular story the good force is a man by the name of Randall P. McMurphy.
He comes into the ward and creates a disruption to all that is ordinary and accepted. The story One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest explores the idea that McMurphy is a Christ-like figure, and that there is an underlying battle between good (McMurphy) and evil (Big Nurse) that seriously affects the outcome of the patients in the ward. One thing that allows the reader to enter into the idea that McMurphy is quite special is how he was noticeably different from all the other patients at the beginning of the story. He had a much greater crave for independence and things like self-gratification than did any of the others. He states that he is “thinking of taking over the whole show himself” (Kesey 22) right at the beginning of the story. This is something none of the other patients would ever even consider saying, and they become very interested in him immediately.
After McMurphy starts getting to know the other people in the ward, he builds a bond with them and starts to express a feeling of wanting to make things change. This is where his stronger Christ-like qualities begin to shine through. He can relate to Christ not only because “He and Christ could function in their societies, but they were able to edify those who followed them and bring meaning into once futile lives” (Essay 2). According to one essay: Both McMurphy and Christ were charismatic and had a small devote following. Christ often challenged the Jewish ritualization of the law and blamed the scribes and Pharisees, with power, for being hypocrites. In this same manner, R.P.
McMurphy often caused a stir by confronting the system of the asylum and its authorities. (2) This is only one of the many similarities between the two very important men. One could go as far as to relate the fishing trip in the story to the actual assumed profession of Jesus Christ himself, that of a fisherman. Perhaps the most unifying similarity between Christ and McMurphy is the action of sacrificing themselves for their causes. They are both killed by their own people. Christ is killed by the Jews, and McMurphy by Mr.
Bromden, both for a good cause. Both men have interesting life stories that end with martyrdom and salvation for others. In some words “Finally, the eventual death of McMurphy was Chiefs “new birth.” McMurphy died in place of Chief, and liberation ensued. The same parallel exists among those who identify themselves with Christ, his death, and resurrection. This was the way to salvation or liberation from the confinement of a worthless life” (Essay 2). The presence of a Christ-like protagonist leads the story to take on the basis of a battle between good and evil.
In this basic frame of good and evil, Big Nurse, otherwise known as Nurse Ratched takes on the role of the evil force. She is hurtful toward the patients and is always making certain that her power and authority over the patients arent questioned or jeopardized in any way. A perfect example of her hurtful behavior is the downsizing of Billy Bibbit, a patient in the ward, after he has sex with a woman, which proves to be extremely therapeutic for his condition. Her verbal assault drives the boy to the point of suicide within minutes. The good force, performed by McMurphy, is very helpful to them.
When he brings the whole group out on a fishing trip without ward permission the guys get their first real taste of freedom in a long time. The whole trip ends up being so much fun, that almost all of the patients seem one hundred percent better. This makes no difference to the nurse. She quickly scolds them, fighting to be powerful, and accuses McMurphy of being a danger to the safety of the ward. The support for the struggle between the two forces is displayed near the beginning of the book when McMurphy bets some of the other patients that he will beat big nurse.
He knows right from the start that his enrollment in the mental hospital will be a battle against the nurse, and he states it clearly. The struggle between the two forces in this book has a magnificent outcome on the end of the story. “Some of the patients in the ward like Chief, Billy, and Cheswick, “an insecure, neurotic man lacking in self-confidence” (Dirks 1), were literally transformed.” The absolute outcome, though, is the liberation of the Chief. He completely recovers from the deepest state of mental affliction of any patient. This is entirely credited to the relationship he had with McMurphy and their plans to leave when the Chief was ready. The night of McMurphys lobotomy and death the Chief makes a statement about feeling as big as a mountain.
It seemed almost as if the free spirit of McMurphy had passed from him to the Chief and enlightened a few others as well. The transformation of Billy Bibbit from “a pathetic, incessantly stuttering, paranoid boychild” (Dirks 1) into a more confident, experienced, man, then to his regression and suicide combines with the moving, tragic death of McMurphy to form a remarkably dramatic outcome. Even the once unchangeable force, The Big Nurse, is altered by the final events in the story. The outcome of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, based on Randall P. McMurphys intense struggle with the opposite side, can only be appreciated best from one perspective. Although he suffers the loss of life, and the nurse hasnt, his achievements prove that he has ultimately triumphed over the “evil” side that fought him with such considerable force, and he earned the right to be labeled as a Christ-like figure. This just proves that “no matter how repressible society may be, one can find freedom, or salvation through identifying themselves with a Christ-figure, or beliefs in general” (Essay 2). Bibliography Dirks, Tim.
Review Page. One Flew Over. Essay-Cuckoo. From search.com. 4 April 1999 Kesey, Ken.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Signet, 1962. New York City.