One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essay

Submitted By alohamaile
Words: 1188
Pages: 5

The Power of a Person “The thing people have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it,” (Roseanne Barr). Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, focuses on the power struggle between a dictatorship and a democracy. This book is about a mental hospital with a well-ordered system, until a new patient arrives and turns it all upside down. The use of sound and manipulation gives power to those who use it to their best ability. Bromden has a twisted way of manipulating others by pretending by fooling them into thinking he cannot hear a thing. Bromden holds a lot of power that no one knows about because he is only pretending to be deaf. One of his jobs is cleaning the staff room during meetings, and they openly discuss the patients and personal matters about them, and Bromden hears it all. However, none of the staff realize he knows it; “They don’t bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I’m nearby because they think I’m deaf and dumb. Everybody thinks so. I’m cagey enough to fool them that much,” (1). If they found out what he knows, he could use that knowledge to his advantage with blackmail. He does this by listening in all everything they discuss during these meetings. The staff doesn’t even acknowledge his presence because they think he does not hear a thing, and Bromden keeps up with this sly trick long enough for everyone to believe so. During one meeting, Bromden overhears the staff discussing what to do about McMurphy, “… ‘Of course, the very nature of this plan could indicate that he is simply a shrewd con man, and not mentally ill at all’…‘didn’t you see the way the man acted out there today?’” (23). In this quote, Bromden listens in on a small rumor that McMurphy is faking his mental illness to get out of his community service for jail. The other patients have not suspected this yet, and now Bromden knows what the staff is thinking of him. He knows that McMurphy’s rebellious behavior is working because the staff addressed the way he acted was out of line. This gives Bromden power because he has knowledge about a patient’s personal matters, and he could use it as blackmail if the staff found out that he really wasn’t deaf. Nurse Ratched uses sound to intimidate others to do as she says. She runs the ward in a way that the patients and staff are fearful of her. She has strong self-control, which makes her more intimidating, because she does not show emotion. She doesn’t become easily flustered and does not let on what is going through her mind. Bromden recalls a group therapy meeting a few years back, saying that “…she’d put all the acutes in a trance by sitting there in silence for twenty minutes after the question, quiet as an electric alarm about to go off, waiting for somebody to start telling something about themselves. Her eyes swept back and forth over them as steady as a turning beacon,” (57). The nurse makes direct eye contact with each patient after asking who would like to discuss his problem first. This creates tension in the air for it makes the patients feel anxious and nervous, since she could call on anyone of them at any given moment. She continues this for a long twenty minutes of awkward silence, and then, “She reached in the basket for the log book. ‘Must we go over past history?’” (57). After asking this, the patients all start talking at once about petty misdemeanors of their past. They would much rather do it themselves than have Nurse Ratched read whatever she pleases aloud to the group, for everyone to hear about the victim’s dark past and secrets. This gives her power because she can manipulate others into following her command. She establishes herself as being in control since she is the one who is leading the meeting and has the power to bring any patient down with the information she holds within the log book. She has strong self-control, which makes her more manipulative, because she does not show emotion. McMurphy is loud and boisterous,…