Essay on One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and the Crucible Comparison

Words: 1980
Pages: 8

Power and control are the central ideas of Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. There are examples of physical, authoritative and mechanical power in the novel, as well as cases of self-control, and control over others. Nurse Ratched is the ultimate example of authoritative power and control over others but R.P. McMurphy refuses to acknowledge the Nurse's power, and encourages others to challenge the status quo. The other patients begin powerless, but with McMurphy's help, learn to control their own lives. Many symbols are also used to represent power and control in the book, such as the ‘Combine', ‘fog', and the imagery of machines.

Arthur Miller develops themes of power somewhat differently in his play The Crucible. Because
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Performing euthanasia on McMurphy is the final step in the Chief's ‘growth', and after McMurphy is lobotomised, all the other patients decide they are ready to leave the hospital and the Nurse loses all power over them.

At the start of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dale Harding describes all of the patients as ‘rabbits'. They have no power over anything and are scared of the outside world. With McMurphy's help, they are able to grow (in the Chief's eyes) and gain control of their lives. An important part of this growth is their discovery of their own power. During the fishing trip, Harding states

"Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power. Power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become" (185)

This is a far cry from his original ‘rabbit' theory.
Charles Cheswick is a minor character who exhibits childish, angry behaviour when he challenges the Nurse. Soon after that, while at the pool, he is still agitated and distracted. He dives into the water and drowns accidentally. At the end of the book, the Chief still sees Billy Bibbit as relatively ‘small'. Although he has experienced some growth, he still has no power over his mother because he is still afraid of her. Billy commits suicide because of this fear. Kesey exaggerates these examples to show those without power and control cannot survive.
After McMurphy helps him, Chief Bromden manages to grow back to his full size