• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the presentation of the individual against society in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'A Clockwork Orange'.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explore the presentation of the individual against society in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'A Clockwork Orange'. 'He who marches out of line hears another drum.' 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' obviously possess a myriad of differences. Burgess' work depicts a bizarre surrealist vision of the future, where milk is laced with LSD and 'ultraviolence' is the favourite pastime of the disaffected youth, whereas Kesey's novel portrays a contemporary (but still dysfunctional) society within our own. But in spite of the vast contrast in style and setting, the two novels share a basic moral principle: that it is wholly wrong for authority to supersede freedom and dignity. At the beginning of 'Cuckoo's Nest', McMurphy arrives at the institution cocksure and free-spirited. His disdain for authority is perhaps best summarized by his army record - he is both honoured for 'leading an escape from a Communist prison camp' and shamed: 'dishonourable discharge...for insubordination. These polarized reactions to McMurphy's refusal to conform are mirrored throughout the novel. He is punished repeatedly and painfully for his refusal to conform; an obvious example would be the electroshock therapy, and when he punches the glass out of Nurse Ratched's office window (indicating a self-destructive pattern of behaviour). But he is also rewarded for his efforts: both with the adulation of his peers and increased freedom; he is allowed to take the other patients on a fishing trip, for example. ...read more.

Middle

Herod that is Nurse Ratched, it could also be argued that Kesey intends to viciously parody the Christian government and its social order by making his Jesus figure a swearing, drinking, almost-convicted rapist. In spite of this possibility (it would certainly be in line with Kesey's deep resentment of the social order) the serious nature of the novel would seem to indicate the former. Joseph Waldmeir perhaps summarised the character best: 'individualistic to the point of disaffiliation, but...altruistic to the point of self-sacrifice'. The abuse of authority by those in power is a recurring theme in both novels. In 'A Clockwork Orange', the rehabilitative efforts of the Government are directed towards submission rather than true reform of character. They are prepared to sacrifice the basic human right to free choice for 'a quiet life'. Alex, perceived by the state as a misfit psychopath, is treated inhumanly, referring to his 'rehabilitation' as a 'new form of torture'. By attempting to force him to adhere to their standards, the state is instead leaving him vulnerable to abuse. Tellingly, Burgess makes what the government officials say absolutely clear (in standard English), but dilutes the gravity of Alex's crimes by having him speak in Nadsat (a deadly razor-blade is a 'cut-throat britva, sexual intercourse is 'the old in-out in-out'). The Minister of the Interior best represents the government's corruption; he doesn't sincerely want criminals reforming- he considers it a helpful by-product of his scheme to clean out jails and make room for political dissidents (who, by our standards would be free to protest). ...read more.

Conclusion

Kesey's opinion on the constant struggle between individuality and submission to authority was that one should never compromise or yield to the people in charge of society (his anarchistic tendencies were documented colourfully in Tom Wolfe's 'Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test). He saw society as he wrote it; corrupt, self-interested and detrimental to people' welfare - demonstrated in the depiction of the 'Combine' and Nurse Ratched, its sinister agent. The rendering of the system as polluted and fascist appealed to the 'hippie' movement of the sixties enough to secure a Broadway play and an inarguably more popular film adaptation (which eschews Bromden's narration and schizophrenia) . In contrast, Burgess seems to hesitantly accept the system itself (Alex admits that 'you can't have everybody behaving in my manner of the night') but is concerned with the danger of officials abusing their power over those in it. He also relates his story in a somewhat more straightforward way; whilst Kesey uses metaphor frequently (the Christ allusions, the 'fog' enshrouding Bromden), Burgess' uses a foul protagonist to better accentuate the foul government, but also makes him charming and sophisticated to better accentuate the charmless and inhuman government . In spite of these differences in overall presentation, character, and environment, the struggle of the individual against society is uncompromisingly presented in both novels and neither Kesey nor Burgess understated its importance. They have endured as compelling treatises on both the dangers of over-mighty governance, and served as effective warnings against the consequences of restricting personal freedom. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Innocence and Experience in "Atonement" and "The Go-Between"

    5 star(s)

    Briony has a similar "love of order", reflected in both the military arrangement of her toys and in her childhood stories, by which "Her passion for tidiness was also satisfied, for an unruly world could be made just so." This "controlling demon" leads to her incomprehension of the fountain scene

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    harmony, but also because in it the inside is out and the outside comes in. "There seemed little demarcation between house and landscape, between damaged building and the burned and shelled remnants of the earth. To Hana the wild gardens were like further rooms."

  1. Focusing On a Clockwork Orange and Frankenstein compare some of the ways authors explore ...

    So a segregation from normal society to his corrective establishment and placing Alex in a state of being observed may have created a fury and anger in him, with his power over the 'droogs' initially allowing them to be under his control, he tries to vent his rages with society amongst those who see his behavior as wrong.

  2. Compare and contrast the presentation of sex and sexuality in The Color Purple by ...

    Walker's use of negatives echoes Albert's words "you nothing at all". The character of Tashi provides further information on the attitudes towards young girls. Nettie suggests to her parents that Tashi could be a teacher or nurse but her father's response is that "there is no place here for a woman to do those things".

  1. Youth Culture In Parts 1 - 2 Of A Clockwork Orange

    run of the city as they go from place to place raping and pillaging without consequences.

  2. Views on the penal System: The Dungeon and The Convict

    It also appears to be more declamatory and public than The Convict. In Wordsworth's poem he speaks about himself and his imagined personal relationship with the convict (repeated use of 'I') whereas Coleridge is more all-inclusive: "To each poor brother who offends against us", "Then we call in our pamper'd mountebanks".

  1. Comparative Essay: 1984 and A Clockwork Orange

    In 1984, newspeak is the government's tool to limit the people's range of thought, and to control the masses. By systematically reducing words and eliminating language that is commonly appreciated, it allows the government to limits any thoughts that can be expressed verbally due to the deliberate translation barrier; new

  2. Control, submission and rebellion in the novels The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, Memoirs ...

    Rochwood, a man involved in the Larkhill conspiracy unveiled the truth behind the mass crisis. ?Imagine a virus, the most terrifying virus of all, and then imagine that you and you alone are the cure. If your ultimate goal is power; how best to use such weapon.? This statement illustrates

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work