A Marxist Reading of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay

A Marxist Reading of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay

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Fred Wright, Lauren's instructor for EN 132 (Life, Language, Literature), comments, "English 132 is an introduction to English studies, in which students learn about various areas in the discipline from linguistics to the study of popular culture. For the literature and literary criticism section of the course, students read a canonical work of literature and what scholars have said about the work over the years. This year, students read One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, a classic of American literature which dates from the 1960s counterculture. Popularized in a film version starring Jack Nicholson, which the class also watched in order to discuss film studies and adaptation, the novel became notable for its sympathetic portrayal of the mentally ill. For an essay about the novel, students were asked to choose a critical approach (such as feminist, formalist, psychological, and so forth) and interpret the novel using that approach, while also considering how their interpretation fit into the ongoing scholarly dialogue about the work. Lauren chose the challenge of applying a Marxist approach to One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. Not only did she learn about critical approaches and how to apply one to a text, she wrote an excellent essay, which will help other readers understand the text better. In fact, if John Clark Pratt or another editor ever want to update the 1996 Viking Critical Library edition of the novel, then he or she might want to include Lauren's essay in the next edition!"

At first glance, a reader may wonder how Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a book depicting a group of mentally unstable men and their boisterous Irish-American leader, connects with the economic and sociological view o...


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...lett, Moyra. Marxist Literary and Cultural Theories. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Print.
“Industrial Revolution.” The New American Desk Encyclopedia. 5th ed. 1989. Print.
Kappel, Lawrence. Readings on One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Print.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. Ed. John Clark Pratt. New York: Viking-Penguin, 1996. Print. Viking Critical Library.
Loeb, Roger C. “Machines, Mops, and Medicaments: Therapy in the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Lex et Scientia 13. 1-2 (1977): 38-41. Rpt. Kappel 85-91.
Malin, Irving. “Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Critique 5.2 (1962): 81-84. Rpt. in Kesey 440-444.
“Marxism.” The New American Desk Encyclopedia. 5th ed. 1989. Print.
Parker, Robert Dale. How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. New York: Oxford, 2011. Print.

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