The Character of Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest".

Authors Avatar by aryaaruhotmailcom (student)

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest - Nurse Ratched Essay

A novel which has a character who can be described as a villain is “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey. The villain of the play is Nurse Ratched, the head nurse in a psychiatric ward. The writer portrays the nurse as a villain through his use of imagery and description and this is highly effective in depicting the nurse as an evil character.

Nurse Ratched desires control, and she wants complete power, so she manipulates the patients and the staff in order to fulfil her needs. In the novel the Nurse is often known as the:

        “Big Nurse”

In this novel, size symbolises power and this is particularly relevant when describing the nurse as she is ultimately one of the two most powerful characters in this story. The name also has connotations to George Orwell’s novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, in which the “Big Brother” has total surveillance of all the people and they are constantly reminded of the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”. The Nurse also has a similar power in the ward as she has total control of the patients actions and she watches their every move. The power struggle between the Nurse and McMurphy is also prevalent as although the Nurse wants to be in total control, she is often defeated by McMurphy who is also a very powerful character. This desire to control and manipulate contributes to the Nurse’s image as a villain and emphasises her malevolent nature.

Join now!

Another way in which Kesey emphasises the Nurses image as a villain is through her physical description. Chief Bromden, a patient in the ward, describes Ratched as being like a machine, and her behaviour fits this description:

        “Her face is smooth... like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh coloured enamel and baby blue eyes... everything working together except the size of her bosom.”

All of the Nurse’s features are almost inhuman apart from her “big womanly breasts”. She tries to maintain an androgynous and asexual exterior yet her bosom prevents her from doing so. The nurse tries to oppress ...

This is a preview of the whole essay