Asylums hold the position of residency for all people that do not fit into the mold of “socially acceptable”. From birth one must abide by certain standards of dress and action in order to avoid a slot in the asylum of life. This set of guidelines impressed upon people by society at large does not frequently face challengers. Society prefers to reign without people astray—without people breaking out of their boxes. References to the structure of society are present in a large quantity of writing. This partially has to do with a concept called intertextuality. This term—introduced to me by Foster in How to Read Literature Like a Professor—points out that all pieces of writing are not original, in fact there is only one truly original piece of writing—the first. In correlation with this is the fact that “every reader’s experience of every work is unique” and no interpretation is wrong (Foster 110). Symbolism in itself has no wrong route—any object or action has a multitude of meanings and every reader sees a different one. So when applying these concepts to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Asylum embodies a smaller, more concentrated representation of the oppression and restraint that people face in their daily lives.
A main object discussed throughout Kesey’s text is Nurse Ratched’s control board.She always sits by it, keeping a close eye on the patients thorough the glass window that sits above it. This board grants her maximum control of what the men watch, see, and experience. This overarching board is also utilized to mess with the clocks and times of day in order to keep the men exactly how she wanted them to be—weak and in order. The control board symbolizes the grip that social media and g...
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...t as this factor assisted in making Nurse Ratched’s dictatorship hateful and controlling.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest consisted of countless amounts of symbolism. Not only relating to society at large, but countless other over arching themes. This novel displays intertextuality just as Foster describes. The story of this particular Asylum proves unique, but the themes, plot, and symbolism present coincide with a large majority of the literary world. After reading Foster’s text—specifically the chapter on symbolism—my knowledge has greatly expanded. Knowing that actions are able to hold other meanings open up a whole new dimension for symbolism. This unordinary situation comes across as much more relatable when compared with the conformity and hate in modern day society. Foster’s text applied seamlessly to Kesey’s themes regarding social norms and conformity.
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