One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essay

Submitted By crlandry23
Words: 645
Pages: 3

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey’s misogynist persuasions are the crux of his novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Society and, more specifically, the mental hospital are referred to as the “Combine” controlled and manipulated by machine-like individuals. Kesey exposes the system by shifting the paradigm of society’s “hierarchy” in favor of women, making men subjects of emasculation. These characteristics are resonated through the Big Nurse, Chief’s mother, and Harding’s wife. Nurse Ratched is the public face of the inhumane system. In order to camouflage any evidence of vulnerability, she conceals emotion becoming disassociated with anything feminine. Her efforts are manifested when she “chose to ignore the way nature had tagged her with those outsized badges of femininity, just like she was above him, and sex, and everything else that’s weak and of the flesh.” These characteristics accentuate her authority, resulting in the devaluation of the Acutes. With intention to debase the men on the ward, she speaks down on them with her voice resonating insinuation. The Acutes then become under the impression that there’s no point in challenging anything. Harding expresses this misconception while explaining to McMurphy the ways of the world: “The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak…we must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world.” Harding, as well as the other men, has been manipulated into believing the “natural” world is the world designed and enforced by the tools of the Combine; being different and unable to conform constitutes as being insane. Their transcendental journey of becoming men is solely determined by their motivation of becoming

individuals, therefore, “whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist,” in the eyes of Emerson. The explanation of why women are perceived so negatively, roots back to Chief’s experiences with his own mother. Chief’s looming memories is why the he reacts very strongly to the Big Nurse. His distrust and terror of women are the result of watching his father become emasculated by his mother throughout his childhood. While speaking to McMurphy for the first time, the Chief explains “he fought a long time till my mother made him too little to fight any more and he gave up.” Ironically, being the equivalent of a giant, Chief refers to his mother as being “big” and continuously growing as the days