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AS and A Level: Ken Kesey

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  1. In Keseys One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphys sacrificial death is necessary in order for the patients of the ward to complete their evolution into autonomous individuals.

    As McMurphy goes on to discover, "there are only a few men on the ward who are committed", and although they could check out, they just don't have "the guts". (167, 168) Seeing the need of the patients, McMurphy begins to lead them out of their shells, whether by defying the big nurse: "running his hand through the glass" to take forbidden cigarettes; or by bringing back masculinity and laughter to the ward: initiating the male bonding fishing trip "where men are men and boats are boats" and wheedling "a skinny laugh out of some Acute who'd been scared to grin since he was twelve".

    • Word count: 938
  2. "It's the truth even if it didn't happen" - Discuss the function and effect of Bromden's dreams and distortions.

    Indeed it represents Ratched's oppression of the patients. However, when McMurphy arrives he lifts the inmates out of the chains of their emotional repression and fear and thus lifts the fog. The subsequent clarity of thought is shown by the Chief in the line "When the fog clears...I'm sitting in the day room." The men prefer to be in the fog as they believe they are safer and less easily targeted by the Nurse. However, their institutionalisation is so great that they fail to realise that the fog is actually preventing their recovery from being completed. In this way, Ratched controls the men, but McMurphy can liberate them.

    • Word count: 963
  3. One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest.How does Kesey present McMurphy's growing influence on the ward and hint at the novel's conclusion in the passage 'the vote is closed'...'crazy as loons' (p162-5)?

    has lost. McMurphy appears to be turning into his nemesis. I think that this shows, through the Chief's inherent aversion to authority, just how much Mac has. Very interestingly, Bromden describes McMurphy as 'standing over me in the mist'. This cannot be in a physical way, since the Chief is exceptionally tall, but relates, I think, to the way the Chief describes size as a product of authority (his father 'shrunk' as his mother 'grew' when their village was sold).

    • Word count: 1209
  4. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest" - In what ways and to what effect does Kesey present Mcmurphy as a Christ-figure?

    This is just like how Christ taught his disciples to be self-sufficient in preparation for his death. The fishing trip is a transformative event for the patients, Mcmurphy is like Christ leading his disciples to sea to strengthen and test their faith in his methods and as a result they return from their journey changed men, worthy of respect. This transformation is due to the patients removal from Nurse Ratched's control. Freed from her domineering policies, the patients can achieve a sense of self worth that she denies them. Another Christ like image in the novel, just as Jesus could make blind men see and lame men walk again, Mcmurphy cures Bromden of his deafness and dumbness.

    • Word count: 1245
  5. "The hell with you, buddy" - In what way does this exchange between McMurphy and Harding help you to appreciate the various conflicts and confrontations in the novel?

    It could be used as an example of him acting as a 'Christ-like' figure, showing him as someone trying to teach the patients what is wrong with the so-called therapeutic meetings. His 'peckin' party' analogy could be described as a 'parable'. In other words, his story serves as a way of communicating an important point across. It is as though McMurphy has created his own therapy session by trying to highlight the problems with Miss Ratched and her meetings. Even though his story of the chickens is directed at Harding, McMurphy is also aiming it at the other patients around

    • Word count: 969
  6. Show how the Author of One flew over the cuckoos nest uses more than one story to present the central ideas in the text?

    "I used to be big, but not no more" page 170 This beginning to Chief Bromden's story acts as an introduction to the reader into the circumstances within the ward. We are shown early on that the members of the ward live under the same oppressive conditions that Bromden and his Father lived under and that the patients are reduced to former shadows of themselves. For this reason it is easy to see that Bromden's story provides the clearest links between the ward and society.

    • Word count: 935
  7. How gender stereotypes in regard to control, are reversed in the novel "One flew over the cuckoos nest" by Ken Kesey.

    Ken Keseys's novel "One flew over the cuckoos nest" although written in 1962- a year before the publication of "The feminine mystique"- emanated the popular ideology of the woman's mission for equality at the time. He constructs a microcosm of the 1960's American society, based within the confines of a mental institution. This reflection of society challenges the assertion of gender-based control, where the tyrannical female oligarchy Nurse Ratched, manipulates and oppresses the pusillanimous chicken-hearted men, with her comparably totalitarian-esque regime.

    • Word count: 1715
  8. The Character of Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest".

    The Nurse also has a similar power in the ward as she has total control of the patients actions and she watches their every move. The power struggle between the Nurse and McMurphy is also prevalent as although the Nurse wants to be in total control, she is often defeated by McMurphy who is also a very powerful character. This desire to control and manipulate contributes to the Nurse?s image as a villain and emphasises her malevolent nature. Another way in which Kesey emphasises the Nurses image as a villain is through her physical description.

    • Word count: 1099
  9. Essay on use of power in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Firstly, characters in both novels use power to liberate others and give them their power back. McMurphy in ?Cuckoo?s Nest? influences the other patients on the ward through his laughter: ?it?s free and loud and? it?s lapping against the walls all over the ward.?[1] McMurphy laughs when he first enters the ward, and the power of his laughter is emphasised because of the way Kesey describes it as ?lapping?, suggesting it fills the ward and envelops everyone. His laugh and rebellious nature eventually help to give the other patients the power of laughter back, who are at first too afraid to laugh because of Nurse Ratched and her power.

    • Word count: 2623
  10. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' - Higher question - Narration

    She is furious at the behaviour of her assistants - dubbed ?the black boys? by Bromden ? and in disciplining them, Bromden describes her as: ?Blowing up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor? The hallucination of seeing Nurse Ratched growing in Bromden?s mind is a key aspect of understanding how he interprets things. Not only can he see Nurse Racthed growing physically, but her increasing size represents her increasing rage and power. The bigger she gets the angrier and more powerful she becomes.

    • Word count: 967

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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