McMurphy is Not a Christ Figure in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

McMurphy is Not a Christ Figure in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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McMurphy is Not a Christ Figure in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Literary fiction is littered with references to Christianity. It is very obviously a large and influential force in the western world so it is hardly surprising that a novel such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which is so questioning of our society and moral values, should be so full of references to what is arguably the basis of these values. What the question asks, however, is if the character of McMurphy is portrayed as a Christ figure. A Christ figure being a reflection of the New Testament messiah within the characters actions, beliefs and effect on those around him. The figure will then redeem his followers, lead them to salvation, be martyred and resurrected.


The similarities are prolific in their presence in certain parts of the novel, the very context of both stories shows similarities, both are dealing with an oppressed factor that is set free by an outsider who teaches and challenges the system in which the oppressed are caught.


The first allusion to the New Testament comes when the chief introduces the reader to the patient Ellis. Ellis' arms our outspread in the pose of crucifixion, an affectation caused by many treatments on the Electro-Shock Therapy(EST) table, a pose that McMurphy later adopts when he receives the treatment. Ellis also tells Billy Bibbitt before the fishing trip to be ` a fisher of men' one of Christ's instructions to his disciples. The purpose of the character seems to be an introduction for the reader to this theme and to have it introduced so early on both highlights the universal nature of the struggle that McMurphy and the patients face and also allows the reader to be ...

... middle of paper ...

...erely alludes to Christ.


Works Cited

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Toronto, Ontario Canada: The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, 1962.

Kunz, Don. Symbolization in Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. A Casebook on Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Ed. George J. Searles. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1989.

Pratt, John Clark. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. New York: The Viking Press. 1973.

Semino, Elena, and Swindlehurst, Kate. Metaphor and Mind Style in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Northern Light (online posting) Spring 1996. <>

Unknown Author. Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. (online posting) <>


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