On Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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BOOK REVIEW ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST Summary Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, wrote this book, based upon the experiences of many actual patients that he learned a lot about, while working at a mental hospital. This book takes place in a mental hospital for the most part except for the deep sea-fishing trip. Randle McMurphy, a gambling Irishman and a con artist, turns out to be the leader of all the patients, and a thorn in Nurse Ratched side. Nurse Ratched, the big nurse, has all the patients in the palm of her hand, until McMurphy shows up. She decides that he will be trouble from the start. Throughout the book McMurphy influences the patients into doing as he says rather than what Nurse Ratched wants. By the end of the story, Nurse Ratched has McMurphy lobotomized, turning him into a vegetable.

Chief Bromden, the narrator, arrived at the hospital fifteen years ago, the first patient in the ward. Chief Bromden decides that he will not allow the nurse to use McMurphy as an example. He murders McMurphy and then escapes from the hospital.

The theme of the story involves societal control over the individual. In the mental hospital, the patients, representing the individual, are subjected to all kinds of cruelty by the controlling hospital administration, representing the state. If the patients refuse to be controlled they are given, against their will, shock treatments to bring them under control. If the patient still refuses to follow the controlling administration of the hospital, the patient is then lobotomized as McMurphy was. The conflict between patients and the administration is symbolic of the conflict between good (the patients) and evil (the administration).

Throughout the novel, Kesey has show that any individual who rebels against the state (e.g. the establishment) must be very strong or else he must be destroyed. As long as the individual conforms to society's rules, then life is fine. If one refuses to conform, the individual will pay the price.

The mood of the book seemed gloomy. There also is a feeling of fear and constraint constantly present. McMurphy tries to break the gloominess and get the patients to laugh, but the predominant mood is never broken for long. A feeling of sadness was also portrayed throughout through the deaths of Cheswick, who drowns himself in the pool, Buckley, Billy and McMurphy. The only thing that breaks the sadness is the escape of Chief Bromden, who overcomes his sickness.

In today's society One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would not hold up to the standards and rules that society lives in today. There is no way in today's society that a mental hospital would be able to use the same kind of harsh and brutal punishments that are used in the mental hospital of this story. Social changes in society have changed the way that one would read this story by the administration's use of force.

In conclusion I thought that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was an enjoyable book to read. I would recommend that if your one that likes unusual and strange books then One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would be a book for you.

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