Sometimes in life people are forced to conform to a certain situation for lack of a better alternative, and this is the case in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. These such people lack the will to stand up for their scruples, and intern are simply guided through their mundane lives by the powers that be. Until someone comes along offering them leadership and the prospect to become “big again.” The man who does so is no other than R.P. McMurphy. Scanlon, Harding, Bibbit, and Chief Bromden may have become adjusted to the oppressive system in which they lived, but certainly were much better adjusted to the real world and life in general after their experience with McMurphy.
Some people may argue that the people of the mental hospital were better off without McMurphy because their lives were “normal” and routine. Their daily routine guided them through a series of happenings, which were both comfortable and tolerable to them, even though as a result of this they would remain subject to the manipulative ways of Nurse Ratchet. These people would say that the “oppressive society” that they lived in may not suit everyone, but certainly suited them.
McMurphy, on the other hand, finds this setting to be suitable for no human being, and soon after arriving he sets the tone for change. “ Well what they got that man strapped down for,” says McMurphy, “ I don’t like that, no sir, it just aint dignified.” By coming to the hospital he brings a sense of realism and courage to the lives of these patients. They have been longing for leadership and McMurphy won’t be intimidated. “I’m thinkin’ a takin’ over this whole shebang,” says McMurphy, and he knows in order to do this he must instill courage into the patients of the ward.
As we are first introduced to the characters, we as the reader meet Harding, a middle aged man, who wears glasses and basically keeps to himself, saying only what he feels need be said. “Miss Ratched is a veritable angel of mercy and why, everybody knows it. She’s unselfish as the wind, toiling thanklessly for the good of all, day after day, seven days a week… Oh no my egomaniac buddy, she is dedicated, she gives every bit of herself, she desires nothing more to see us walk out of her adjusted and capable once more of coping with life,” says Harding. What Harding does not yet know is McMurphy will...
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....) I’m big again, Mac.” He turned and rushed out the window into the horizon.
Some people are forced to conform to a condemning situation, but thanks to McMurphy these people did not. He brought them all hope and a new light and sense of well being. He taught them how things were on the outside, in the “real world” and took them away from the boring lives they lived in the hospital even if it was only for a short amount of time. He gave Harding, Billy, and Chief Bromden the courage which they had always longed to have but could never exude on their own, and I certainly think society needs more people like him, more people to lead other and instill them with power. We as human beings long for leadership and someone to give us worth, and R.P. McMurphy was certainly the person to do so for these people. He may not be the best contribution to the economy, but in regards to people in general, there is no denying the potential we could have if only there were more people like him, people to motivate, and give us pride. McMurphy certainly did this for all of the people he encountered in the hospital and made them better adjusted to live their lives to the fullest every day.
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