Parallels Between the Life of Ken Kesey and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Parallels Between the Life of Ken Kesey and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Length: 897 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Barbaric treatments for mental patients such as lobotomies and electric shock therapy were often used in mid-twentieth century psychiatric wards. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, set in one of these wards, is a fictional novel about committed mental patient R. P. McMurphy and his power struggle with the emasculating Nurse Ratched. The mastermind behind this novel, Ken Kesey, was a prominent figure in American counter-culture who struggled with figures of power during his lifetime as well. Ken Kesey reflects his life in the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in various ways including the setting and the hallucinogenic experiences he shares with the narrator.
Ken Kesey and the narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief Bromden, both experienced hallucinations in their life. Kesey was an important figure in American counter-culture and experimented heavily with LSD and other hallucinogens (Wolfe). “He admitted that he wrote the novel while working as a night attendant at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital, and that he wrote part of it while under the influence of drugs” (Reilly). It is evident that the time he spent working as an orderly impacted the content of the book through the setting and the characters, most prominently Chief Bromden. The Chief is a schizophrenic, half native-american who “seeks refuge in madness from what he calls the “Combine.” a term he coins to characterize organized society” (Carnes 5). The Chief often compares things going on in the ward to machinery. Whenever the Chief has these delusions he calls it the “fog”. In the beginning of Part 1, when Nurse Ratched is first introduced, the chief compares her to what seems like a mechanical monster (Kesey 22). Throughout the novel, the Chief’s delusio...


... middle of paper ...


...esey were significant contributions to mid-century American literature.



Works Cited

Carnes, Bruce. “Ken Kesey.” 1974. PDF file.
Fried, Joshua. “What a Trip.” Stanford Magazine. Stanford University, Jan. 2002. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Gilliland, Herbert C. “Ken Kesey.” Research Guide to Biography & Criticism. Vol. 6. N.p.: n.p., 1991. 445-49. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. New York: Penguin, 1962. Print.
Macdonald, Andrew, and Gina Macdonald. “Ken Kesey.” Magill’s Survey of American Literature. Rev. ed. Ipwich: Salem, 2006. 1-8. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Reilly, Edward C., and David W. Cole. “Ken Kesey.” Critical Survey of Long Fiction. 4th ed. Ipwich: Salem, 2010. 1-9. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. New York: Picador, 1968. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

McMurphy as Hero of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

- McMurphy as Hero of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest A hero is considered to be any man noted for courage or nobility of Purpose; especially, one who has risked or sacrificed his life. In Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the reader can see how McMurphy is a prime example of a hero. McMurphy's strength embodies a heroic devotion to the other acutes on the ward. There were no heroes on the psychiatric ward until McMurphy's arrival. McMurphy gave the patients courage to stand against a truncated concept of masculinity, such as Nurse Ratched....   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoos Nest]

Free Essays
506 words (1.4 pages)

Essay about Patient Control in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

- The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey is about the power structure of a mental ward from the perspective of a patient, Bromden. The story takes place during the 1950's in Oregon. Many of the patients on the ward are not necessarily insane however do not fit in with pre established societal norms and have chosen a life away from these norms. The men who are voluntary have given in to the staff and follow them like sheep, however, the men who are committed need controlling according to society so they were sent to the ward....   [tags: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest]

Better Essays
1030 words (2.9 pages)

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

- Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest The theme of this story “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” according to Daniel Woods is “Power is the predominant theme of Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest': who holds power, who doesn't, who wants it, who loses it, how it is used to intimidate and manipulate and for what purposes, and, most especially, how it is disrupted and subverted, challenged, denied and assumed” (http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/cuckoosnest/essays/essay1.html)....   [tags: Ken Kesey Flew Cuckoo's Nest Essays]

Better Essays
1184 words (3.4 pages)

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

- Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey's use of symbolism in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest transforms the novel and the hospital within the novel a microcosm of society, a battle between the sane and insane, the conformist and the non-conformist. Randle McMurphy's arrival influenced the lives of almost every person, whether patient or employee. Whether or not his motives and actions were moral or good-hearted is difficult to conclude, however. On one hand, he undoubtedly saved the patients from losing their souls, so to speak, to Nurse Ratched and her ward....   [tags: Ken Kesey Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest Essays]

Better Essays
1163 words (3.3 pages)

Hero in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey Essay

- Hero in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey Randle Patrick McMurphy, the main character in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, is the perfect example of a hero. He is committed to a mental institution after faking insanity to get out of a work camp. From the beginning of his presence on the ward, things start to change. He brings in laughter, gambling, profanity and he begins to get the other patients to open up. All of this, however, clashes with the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, who is trying to press conformity and obeying authority....   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoo?s Nest Ken Kesey Essays]

Better Essays
710 words (2 pages)

Essay on Control in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

- Control in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey Ken Kesey?s masterpiece novel One Flew over the Cuckoo?s Nest uses many themes, symbols, and imagery to illustrate the reality of the lives of a group of mental patients. The element of control is a central, arguably the largest, and the most important theme in the novel. The element of control revolves around the two main characters of the novel, Randle P. McMurphy, and Nurse Ratched. These two characters are the exact antithesis of each other, and they both seek to get their own way....   [tags: Papers Ken Kesey Cuckoo Nest Essays]

Better Essays
3216 words (9.2 pages)

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

- Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a multidimensional novel with many important messages in which Kesey strives to relay to the readers. Kesey did not write this novel for the sole purpose of entertainment, even though it was very entertaining, but did write it with the intent to show the readers many realities of life. First of all Kesey shows in this book that how people are perceived in society may not really be how that person is and that things are sometimes different than what they seem....   [tags: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essays]

Better Essays
852 words (2.4 pages)

The Use of Laughter as Medicine in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- The Use of Laughter as Medicine in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest For years, it has been said that laughter is the best medicine. In Proverbs 17:22 it says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Imagine being in a place where medicine takes the place of laughter. This is the environment the patients at an Oregon psychiatric hospital in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) experienced before the arrival of a new patient. Chief Bromden, who is presumably deaf and dumb, narrates the story in third person....   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoos Nest]

Better Essays
775 words (2.2 pages)

Control Leads to Destruction in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- Control Leads to Destruction in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest         One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, is about patients and doctors in a mental institution.  The author talks a lot about what goes on in this institute.  The main points in this book deal with control, be it the character of McMurphy who is unable to handle control, or Nurse Ratched the head nurse on the ward whose job requires her to be in control. The world of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is dark; it is a place where control leads to destruction, but the novel shows through the character of The Chief that there is still hope if the people who are being controlled have the power to resi...   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoos Nest]

Better Essays
833 words (2.4 pages)

McMurphy, Rebel with a Cause in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- McMurphy, Rebel with a Cause in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey's experiences in a mental institution urged him to tell the story of such a ward. We are told this story through the eyes of a huge red Indian who everyone believes to be deaf and dumb named Chief in his novel "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". Chief is a patient in an Oregon psychiatric hospital on the ward of Mrs Ratched. she is the symbol of authority throughout the text. This ward forms the backdrop for the rest of the story....   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoos Nest]

Free Essays
2201 words (6.3 pages)