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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest How and why does the play make the audience identify with McMurphy? In 1950s America mentally ill people were treated unequally. Mentally ill people were seen differently. They were classed as not normal and treated differently because of their illness. During this time there were lots of Mental Health Hospitals were people were not treated how they should be. Patients were getting abused just because they were mentally ill and even just because they had learning difficulties. At this time people with learning difficulties and dyslexia were classed as mentally ill. This is not right because a learning difficulty is not an illness. So if you had learning difficulties or any other type of problem like this you would be put into a mental hospital and you would receive the same treatment as the other patients without it being necessary. Throughout this powerful play, we can see that McMurphy symbolises a Jesus figure. ...read more.


All of this, however, clashes with the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, who is trying to press conformity and obeying authority. It is then a battle between McMurphy and the nurse, McMurphy trying to set the patients free and the nurse trying to make them "normal". The most obvious hero type of McMurphy is an out-law hero. This is evident in his struggle against the nurse and the combine which represent society. He is an outlaw because he is his own person. He has freedom to act how he wants, think what he wants and be what he wants, and society is out to make him be like everyone else, to conform. At first, McMurphy's rebellion against authority is just a selfish attempt to make his life on the ward more comfortable. But later on he realizes that the other patients rely on him and need him to help them be free. This is seen in the book when Cheswick drowns himself after McMurphy starts to give in to the nurse. ...read more.


Since she has ultimate power on the ward, she could do anything she wants and make any rules. For instance, when the patients wanted to watch the World Series and they clearly had a majority, she didn't let them because she wanted them to know that she has authority and sooner or later they will have to give in and obey her. This really annoyed McMurphy, but by yelling at the blank screen, he turned things around and frustrated her. It was his temper that eventually led to his death. After Billy Bibbit killed himself, McMurphy attacked the nurse and tried to strangle her. This gave her reason to have McMurphy lobotomized which led to Chief Bromben killing him. In the end, even though Randle Patrick McMurphy dies, he succeeds in his mission of setting the other patients free. Chief Bromden, the narrator, gains his size and confidence and he can face reality without retreating onto his imagination. Also, almost all of the other patients leave the hospital because they no longer need someone to follow. They have learned from McMurphy to live on their own and have rejected the brainwashing of the combine. ...read more.

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