One Flew Over The Cuckoo`s NestWhen 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 eyesof this intelligent and imaginative author. Kesey leads the reader through amental 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 traditionallylabeled as good or necessary, namely the hospital, in our culture.
It is shownhow one good force can have such an extreme effect on the fate of itsopposition. In this particular story the good force is a man by the name ofRandall P. McMurphy. He comes into the ward and creates a disruption to all thatis ordinary and accepted. The story One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest exploresthe idea that McMurphy is a Christ-like figure, and that there is an underlyingbattle between good (McMurphy) and evil (Big Nurse) that seriously affects theoutcome of the patients in the ward. One thing that allows the reader to enterinto the idea that McMurphy is quite special is how he was noticeably differentfrom all the other patients at the beginning of the story. He had a much greatercrave for independence and things like self-gratification than did any of theothers.
He states that he is thinking of taking over the whole showhimself (Kesey 22) right at the beginning of the story. This is somethingnone of the other patients would ever even consider saying, and they become veryinterested in him immediately. After McMurphy starts getting to know the otherpeople in the ward, he builds a bond with them and starts to express a feelingof wanting to make things change. This is where his stronger Christ-likequalities begin to shine through. He can relate to Christ not only because Heand Christ could function in their societies, but they were able to edify thosewho followed them and bring meaning into once futile lives (Essay 2).According to one essay: Both McMurphy and Christ were charismatic and had asmall devote following. Christ often challenged the Jewish ritualization of thelaw and blamed the scribes and Pharisees, with power, for being hypocrites.
Inthis same manner, R.P. McMurphy often caused a stir by confronting the system ofthe asylum and its authorities. (2) This is only one of the many similaritiesbetween the two very important men. One could go as far as to relate the fishingtrip in the story to the actual assumed profession of Jesus Christ himself, thatof a fisherman. Perhaps the most unifying similarity between Christ and McMurphyis the action of sacrificing themselves for their causes. They are both killedby 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 withmartyrdom and salvation for others. In some words Finally, the eventual deathof McMurphy was Chiefs new birth. McMurphy died in place of Chief, andliberation ensued. The same parallel exists among those who identify themselveswith Christ, his death, and resurrection.
This was the way to salvation orliberation from the confinement of a worthless life (Essay 2). The presenceof a Christ-like protagonist leads the story to take on the basis of a battlebetween 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 ishurtful toward the patients and is always making certain that her power andauthority over the patients arent questioned or jeopardized in any way. Aperfect example of her hurtful behavior is the downsizing of Billy Bibbit, apatient in the ward, after he has sex with a woman, which proves to be extremelytherapeutic for his condition. Her verbal assault drives the boy to the point ofsuicide within minutes. The good force, performed by McMurphy, is very helpfulto them.
When he brings the whole group out on a fishing trip without wardpermission the guys get their first real taste of freedom in a long time. Thewhole trip ends up being so much fun, that almost all of the patients seem onehundred percent better. This makes no difference to the nurse. She quicklyscolds them, fighting to be powerful, and accuses McMurphy of being a danger tothe safety of the ward. The support for the struggle between the two forces isdisplayed near the beginning of the book when McMurphy bets some of the otherpatients that he will beat big nurse.
He knows right from the start thathis enrollment in the mental hospital will be a battle against the nurse, and hestates it clearly. The struggle between the two forces in this book has amagnificent outcome on the end of the story. Some of the patients in the wardlike Chief, Billy, and Cheswick, an insecure, neurotic man lacking inself-confidence (Dirks 1), were literally transformed. The absoluteoutcome, though, is the liberation of the Chief.
He completely recovers from thedeepest state of mental affliction of any patient. This is entirely credited tothe relationship he had with McMurphy and their plans to leave when the Chiefwas ready. The night of McMurphys lobotomy and death the Chief makes astatement about feeling as big as a mountain. It seemed almost as if the freespirit of McMurphy had passed from him to the Chief and enlightened a few othersas well. The transformation of Billy Bibbit from a pathetic, incessantlystuttering, paranoid boychild (Dirks 1) into a more confident, experienced,man, then to his regression and suicide combines with the moving, tragic deathof McMurphy to form a remarkably dramatic outcome.
Even the once unchangeableforce, The Big Nurse, is altered by the final events in the story. The outcomeof One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, based on Randall P. McMurphys intensestruggle with the opposite side, can only be appreciated best from oneperspective. Although he suffers the loss of life, and the nurse hasnt, hisachievements prove that he has ultimately triumphed over the evil sidethat fought him with such considerable force, and he earned the right to belabeled as a Christ-like figure. This just proves that no matter howrepressible society may be, one can find freedom, or salvation throughidentifying themselves with a Christ-figure, or beliefs in general (Essay 2).
BibliographyDirks, 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.English Essays