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How and why does the play make the audience identify with McMurphy?

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Introduction

How and why does the play make the audience identify with McMurphy? The play 'one flew over the cuckoo's nest' is set in the 1950s. In the 1950s the treatment and care for those who were mentally ill was not at its best, possibly at an all time low. There were a huge number of the 'old style' mental hospitals that were still applying treatment such as shock therapy, psychotropic drugs and lobotomies. Community care was bought in but it failed to come into many of the hospitals, and the long-term patients were mistreated and undermined. However, the abuse of these patients did not go unnoticed. The government started to make small steps in an effort to help, particularly in 1953 when the government set aside millions to help refurbish the homes that the patients lived in, and they did it again in 1954-1957 when the government reconsidered and changed the laws on how mentally ill should be treated and viewed, but few actually made any change. By bringing out this play the audience had a chance to identify with McMurphy and it gave the audience a unique look into the terrible things that happened behind the closed doors of the institutions. ...read more.

Middle

"Out miss Ratchet is the kindest, sweetest the most benevolent women I have... that I have... ever... oh the bitch, bitch". This display of emotions shows the effect of institutionalisation on even the boldest and strongest of characters, their own morals and principles are taken away and replaced by a routine. The height of institutionalisation is shocking as we see the silliest rules being put into place, such as they are not allowed to brush their teeth when they want to 'we don't open that cabinet [containing toothpaste] till six forty-five.' The influence Nurse Ratchet and this routine have on them is unbelievable, they no longer think for themselves and the second Nurse Ratchet calls them, they are at her feet, like trained dogs. We see this symbolised when they are playing a game of cards. 'Nurse Ratchet calls over the loud speaker that there is a group meeting and like programmed robots in the middle of the game of cards, they get up and move the tables aside, they carry their chairs across the room while McMurphy sits angry and confused.' In this part of the play, the play makes us identify with McMurphy through an emotional bond that slowly develops between the audience and McMurphy. ...read more.

Conclusion

'I have observed a definite deterioration of discipline since he arrived. Perhaps...another form of therapy...' again we see Nurse Ratchet attempting to punish rather than treat. We also see how Nurse Ratchet takes their freedom of speech 'if you wish to speak you must first be recognised' and Nurse Ratchet bullies them into saying things and the audience can identify with Nurse Ratchet because people have come across bullying once or twice in their lifetime. By rebelling against Nurse Ratchet, McMurphy is the person who stands up to the bully (Nurse Ratchet), and the audience can identify with McMurphy because they might look up to him as if they were a child in a school play ground. This play made me identify with McMurphy because I could see everything from the point of view from a person that is inside a mental institution. I could see these patients from a same level of perspective as McMurphy; because he is sane, and that means I can relate to the patients therefore allowing me to see the world through their eyes. This play put the scale of institutionalisation in to perspective for me and maybe the rest of the audience, because it put you inside the play using McMurphy. Nial Pembroke ...read more.

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