One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

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Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest uses stylistic features such as characterisation, religious symbolism and narrative voice to explore the idea that ‘when systems are unjust people of conscience must act.’ One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is narrated by the main character Chief Bromden, a chronic in a very controlled, unjust, authority driven mental asylum. That is until Randall McMurphy a new admission enters the hospital ward causing havoc for the enforcers of the unjust system, standing up on behalf of the patients. Nurse Ratched ‘the big nurse’ and her ‘black boys’ who abuse their power creating an unequitable system. In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey uses characterisation to depict the struggle of McMurphy against the unjust system of ‘the Combine.’ Nurse Ratched, the big nurse, is portrayed as a powerful mechanical being ‘big as a tractor’ with a large amount of power along with her ‘black boys’ who maintain the injustice of the system. Kesey uses Bromden’s narration to depict these characters as ‘humming hate and death’ further emphasising the lack of compassion in the hospital. In contrast Kesey constructs McMurphy as an individual and a person of conscience. Before he is officially introduced to the reader Bromden tells them that ‘he is no ordinary admission’ and that ‘he sounds big’ influencing the reader to view him differently to the other patients. McMurphy’s outspoken nature and his immediate refusal to conform to his new wards rules, on arrival telling them in his ‘loud brassy voice that he’s already plenty damn clean thankyou’ also begins to distinguish him as a unique individual entering a very controlled, regulated hospital system. As McMurphy develops and continues to rebel against Nurse Ratched’s strict rules and the unjust system Kesey reveals more about Nurse Ratched through Chief Bromden, ‘change[ing] back

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