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One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

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Introduction

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest One of the first important factors in this novel would have to be the title, it originates from a children's rhyme; "One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoos nest". In the rhyme, it goes on to say; "goose swoops down and plucks you out", the symbolic title helps to give us the impression that McMurphy attempts to "swoop down" and "pluck" out the patients of the psychiatric ward. But he is faced by a nurse, appropriately described as "as big as a tractor", an excellent simile to emphasise the power of Nurse Ratched. Ken Kesey, the author of "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest", describes the nurse's appearance by saying that she has "skin like flesh-coloured enamel", yet another simile demonstrating her non-human appearance. ...read more.

Middle

He believes that doing his six month service in the hospital is far better than the hard work at Pendleton Work Farm, this mere fact haunts McMurphy later when he discovers the power Nurse Ratched wields over him - that she can send him for electric shock treatments and keep him committed as long as she likes. Whether insane or not, the hospital is undeniably in control of the fates of its patients. McMurphy's fate as the so called 'rebel' is foreshadowed by the misfortune of Maxwell Taber, a former patient who was also, according to Nurse Ratched, a manipulator. Taber was subjected to electroshock treatments and possibly "brain work", which leaves him passive and unable to think. When Ratched associates McMurphy with Taber, we get an inkling of McMurphy's diagnosis. ...read more.

Conclusion

McMurphy's self-sacrifice on behalf of his ward-mates echoes Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross to redeem humankind. The actions of the protagonist frequently parallel Christ's actions in the Gospels. McMurphy undergoes a kind of baptism upon entering the ward, and he slowly gathers disciples around him as he increases his rebellion against Ratched. Finally, McMurphy's ultimate sacrifice, his attack on Ratched, combined with the symbolism of the cross-shaped electroshock table as well as, McMurphy's sarcastic comment and request: "Anointest my head with a conductant. Do I get a crown of thorns," by McMurphy using the word "anointest", which emphasises to the basic fact that he is indeed insane and probably is unaware of the consequences that the electric shock will bring. It is also yet another example of religious imagery, therefore cements the image of the Christ-like martyrdom that McMurphy has achieved by sacrificing his freedom and sanity. ...read more.

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