One Flew over the Cukoo's Nest Research Paper

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a modern fable pitting a marvelous type of good against a marvelous type of evil. Ken Kesey’s timeless novel depicts how society deals with the mentally ill in various ways, while showing how a 1950’s insane asylum treats its patients because of its dependence on cultural attitudes and sense of social responsibility. Kesey’s own experience adds credibility to his charges that called public attention to the conditions of our nation’s hospitals. Kesey is best known as the author of the widely-read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion (Lesniak and Trosky 199). His works are set in California and Oregon, two locations representing landmarks in Kesey’s life and also providing major tension in his works. Kesey was born and raised a “hard-shell Baptist” in Colorado and Oregon (Lesniak and Trosky 198). When he was younger, he developed a deep love of nature (Lesniak and Trosky 199). As a child, Kesey accompanied his father on many nature trips and as a result, developed a deep respect for nature (Lesniak and Trosky 199). Hunting and fishing are important events in the two major works that established his literary reputation. Characters in his works are physically strong and ready to compete against pressure to conform to standards (Riley 266). His involvement in the arts also helped him gain experience in acting and writing (Lesniak and Trosky 200). His involvement in the arts also helped him gain experience in acting and writing (Lesniak and Trosky 200). Kesey enrolled at the University of Oregon, where he majored in speech and communications, gaining experience in acting and writing for radio and television (Lesniak and Trosky 199). During this time, Kesey married his high school sweetheart, Faye Haxby, and moved to California where he enrolled in Stanford’s creative writing program (Lesniak and Trosky 200). “Kesey’s style incorporates techniques borrowed from theatre and film such as flashbacks, fade-outs, and jump cuts” (Lesniak and Trosky 200). His background and experience in psychiatric wards also helped build the framework for his novels. While at Stanford, Kesey met Vie Lovell, whom Kesey dedicated One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to. Lovell suggested that Kesey take part in drug experiments where he would ingest various psychoactive drugs before reporting the effects. “This experience, along with his experiences as an aide at the VA Hospital, led him to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Lesniak and Trosky 200). Kesey’s title comes from a children’s folk rhyme; two lines are cited in the epigraph: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven/All good children go to heaven/One flew east, one flew west, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” (Riley 267). Since the book deals with inmates of a mental institution, “cuckoo’s nest” is an easily understood metaphor for the setting. However, another idea gives a deeper meaning to the title. Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds who then raise the cuckoo’s offspring as their own (Riley 267). The significance here is that there is no such thing as a cuckoo’s “nest. Kesey’s title might mean “one goes one direction, one then goes another opposite direction, and then one goes a different direction that is completely out of the frame of reference” (Riley 267). McMurphy, a “good” man, who flies “over the cuckoo’s nest” is not really insane. His death, after having been reduced to an infantile state by lobotomy, assures his entry into a “heaven” in which Nurse Ratched will not be able to gloat over her victory. The setting of the novel is in the static institution of a 1950’s mental ward. “By choosing a mental hospital for his setting, Kesey was able to picture society’s pressure to adjust at its most coldly, and explicitly, coercive” (Bryfonski 318). The novel tells how Randle Patrick McMurphy, a cocky, fast-talking inmate of a prison…