Themes In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In the first half of the classic novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, author Ken Kesey uses many themes, symbols, and imagery to illustrate the reality of the lives of a group of mental patients. The story takes place during the 1950s in an Oregon psychiatric hospital and is narrated by a patient on the ward named Chief Bromden. When the novel’s protagonist, Randle P. McMurphy enters the confines of a mental institution from a prison farm, the rules inflicted by the Big Nurse begin to change. Chaos and disruption commence throughout the standard and regular flow of the hospital life, altering the well-established routines due to the threat that McMurphy opposes on the ward. Obviously, it becomes evident that Kesey will convey many viewpoints throughout the course of the story, however, I strongly believe that a recurring theme can be singled out. The main theme behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the idea of freedom and confinement and how it affects human behaviour. As aforementioned, Kesey utilizes many symbols that represent the amount of control enforced within the facility, compared to the freedom that is “the outside.” For example, McMurphy makes a bet that he can lift the control panel, a very large and heavy…show more content…
Kesey portrays laughter as a parallel to freedom through various literary symbols to exemplify how the power of laughter can free a man who is under the control of an unjust authority. As McMurphy enters the ward in the beginning of the story, Chief Bromden takes note of his boisterous laugh. He notices that his laugh is “…free and loud…sounds real [it]…it’s the first [real] laugh I’ve heard in years” (12, Kesey). This illustrates that McMurphy, even from the beginning, has the intentions to uphold his own control. Before him, no one laughed on the ward, but it is apparent that nobody will take away his ability to
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