Psychiatric Institutions of the Sixties Portrayed in Ken Kesey´sOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and in the Film: Girl, Interrupted

Psychiatric Institutions of the Sixties Portrayed in Ken Kesey´sOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and in the Film: Girl, Interrupted

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In Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the film Girl, Interrupted directed by James Mangold authors both look at American psychiatric institutions of the 1960s and explore the idea that the hospitals act as microcosms for society. A microcosm is a small universe representative of a larger one thus suffers the same problems of conformity and rebellion, prejudice against minorities and authority figures ruling absolutely. Both authors use stylistic techniques to position the audience to respond to ideas common in both texts.
Within a society there are those who promote non-conformity in a positive light, this idea is explored through the institutions of both texts by Ken Kesey and James Mangold. In Kesey’s novel, characters often shown as controlled by the system but there are also those who do not confront to such order and disrupt the enforced demand, by the system which is seen as the government. The character Randle McMurphy is one who is seen as conductor of rebellion, he introduces laughter to the ward which is an element of revolution within characters. McMurphy knows that one has to laugh “to keep the world from running [one] plumb crazy” (p.214). The use of sound throughout the novel displays that the power of this laughter represents McMurphy promoting non-conformity. Dictatorship rules the system and enforces conformity, Kesey’s use of imagery portrays that the fog machine is a pigment of Chief Bromden’s imagination but represents a way in which the characters are controlled. Chief figures that the “fog machine had broken down in the walls” (p.140), this symbolises his own building of rebellion and a defence against conformity. Similarly, Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted also shows the positive effect of rebe...


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...nds of suspenseful music is heard and camera is used to film the reactions of other patients as she enters the ward, which appears as frightened. Negative and positive authority can be seen through both texts which produce the idea of Kesey and Mangold, who have used these texts as a microcosm for society.
Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and film Girl, Interrupted directed by James Mangold display the hospitals act as a microcosms for society. This idea is shown through characters that promote non-conformity, the showing of prejudice against minorities and when authority figures rule absolutely. The audience respond to this idea which is common to both, this idea is mainly presented through the stylistic techniques dialogue, camera angles, sound, and literary techniques, as each reflect the idea of the hospitals acting as microcosms for society.


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