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Essay on Insanity: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Keyse

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Insanity is a blurred line in the eyes of Ken Kesey. He reveals a hidden microcosm of mental illness, debauchery, and tyranny in his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The remarkable account of a con man’s ill-fated journey inside a psychiatric hospital exposes the horrors of troubling malpractices and mistreatments. Through a sane man’s time within a crazy man’s definition of a madhouse, there is exploration and insight for the consequences of submission and aberration from societal norm. While some of the novel’s concerns are now anachronous, some are more vital today than before. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a compelling tale that brings a warning of the results of an overly conformist and repressive institution.
As the narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief Bromden, a paranoid half- Native American Indian man, has managed to go unnoticed for ten years by pretending to be deaf and dumb as a patient at an Oregon mental asylum. While he towers at six feet seven inches tall, he has fear and paranoia that stem from what he refers to as The Combine: an assemblage whose goal is to force society into a conformist mold that fits civilization to its benefit. Nurse Ratched, a manipulative and impassive former army nurse, dominates the ward full of men, who are either deemed as Acute (curable), or Chronic (incurable). A new, criminally “insane” patient named Randle McMurphy, who was transferred from the Pendleton Work Farm, eventually despoils the institution’s mechanical and monotonous schedule through his gambling, womanizing, and rollicking behavior. McMurphy’s dereliction of Nurse Ratched’s rules not only provides entertainment for Bromden and the other patients, but also acts as an impetus for their own reb...


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...sage against conformity, it is only fitting that this novel’s significance be challenged. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest strikes a balance between amusing and admonishing examples creates its indisputable literary merit. Ken Kesey’s commentary on the perception of insanity is not only a story, but also a symbol for the beauty in being unconventional.



Works Cited

Fassler, Joe. "The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media
Company, 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
"Ken Kesey Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
"Ken Kesey Biography." Ken Kesey Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, a Novel. New York: Viking, 1962. Print.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey." One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken
Kesey. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.



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