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In What ways is Sexuality portrayed as central to the conflicts of the individual-v-society in Ken Kesey's 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' and Tennessee Williams 'A street car named desire'?

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Introduction

In What ways is Sexuality portrayed as central to the conflicts of the individual-v-society in Ken Kesey's 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' and Tennessee Williams 'A street car named desire'? The capacity of sexual feelings within the individual is central to both the development and fundamental basis of any significant character. As observed in both 'One flew over the cuckoos nest' (AKA Cuckoo's nest) and 'A Street car named desire' (AKA. St. car) sexuality emerges as a principal device used in defining a character to the audience. By the reliance on and close association of the text with the stereotypical characters found within society, the characters presented to the audience can be made more identifiable with. The physical description of a character can therefore be said to be symbolic of its sexuality, "Broad across the jaw...shoulders and chest"1 and in likening a description to a stereotype "I fight and fuh..too much"2 this can be greater reinforced. As you can see the physical description of McMurphy is twinned with boastful memoirs of his masculinity via his sexual prowess. This also being evident in St. car with the introduction of the character Stanley Kowalski, "blood stained package"3 is symbolic of the instinctive masculine act of the hunter-gatherer, this in collaboration with the description that precedes it "Roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes"4 suggests to the audience that Stanley, like McMurphy is a strongly masculine heterosexual male. ...read more.

Middle

The use of dramatic irony as a language device emphasizes Blanches truths to the audience "I couldn't believe her story and go on living with Stanley", this statement by Stella is also a reflection on society, with irony used to undermine it, as Blanche has earlier compromised herself through her sexuality, she is not believed when she states rape. Indicating a "democratic community"9 that condemns a minority. Blanche is representative of the demise of the southern states of America, again portraying her sexual minority to be symbolic of intolerance and discrimination on a mass scale within society. Blanche is weak and denies her sexuality whereas Stanley is open about his sexuality making him mentally stronger, therefore one can argue that the conflicts that arise in Blanche, like Harding are caused by not embracing ones sexuality. The strength of each character stems from the mind but is represented using the physical; sexuality is the tool that combines them both to create a character to the audience/reader. In contrast to Blanche and Harding's denial of sexuality and its resulting weakness, the characters Stanley and McMurphy are symbolically open and demonstrative of their own sexuality and its use as a powerful device to gain or portray dominance. The act of rape is coupled to both characters "he picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed" Stanley and "statutory with a girl of-" McMurphy both exerting strength through the physical control of rape. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both texts create a window into society with each character representing a different aspect, McMurphy and Stanley representing male dominance and non-conformity, Blanche also representing non conformity, Harding and Blanches boy husband representing Homosexuality, The Nurse and Matron are representative of the social control and women's changing position in society. There is some crossing over of complex characters across the roles discussed yet a discriminative society is addressed from every angle by both texts through the use of sexuality. 1 Description of the character McMurphy from One flew over the cuckoo's nest, P-12. 2 McMurphy, One flew over the Cuckoos nest, P-100. 3 Stanley from St.Car, throws this up to Stella His wife. 4 Description of Stanley from St.Car. 5 Harding's hands are said to be the colour of ivory "carved each other out of soap". 6 Blanche is related to pale colours consistently throughout. 7 Mitch says this to Blanche during her mental decline. 8 The house Blanche once lived in Southern America, part of the decline of slave labour and Southern way. 9 The hospital ward is likened to that of a democratic community by those in power. 10 Both terms of castration are used in description of the Nurse's desire to emasculate and thus gain power over the men. 11 He has a stutter as a result of his persecution from society. 12 A metaphorical representation of society as a machine, from the narrative voice Bromden. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

There is some thoughtful analysis here with some well-made and well-supported points, though with some weakness in conclusions drawn. The concluding paragraph is a fair attempt to summarise the main findings of the discussion, relating these back to the statements in the introduction.

Paragraph and sentence construction are frequently weak, with some poor punctuation, but generally the lexis is up to the job.

3 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 23/07/2013

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