Essay PreviewMore ↓
The Individual and The System One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Many social issues and problems are explored in Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Perhaps the most obvious complaint against society is the treatment of the individual. This problem of the individual versus the system is a very controversial topic that has provoked great questioning of the government and the methods used to treat people who are unable to conform to the government's standards.
McMurphy is an individual who is challenging and rebelling against the system's rules and practices. He eventually teaches this practice of rebellion to the other patients who begin to realize that their lives are being controlled unfairly by the mental institution. When McMurphy first arrives at the institution, all of the other patients are afraid to express their thoughts to the Big Nurse. They are afraid to exercise their thoughts freely, and they believe that the Big Nurse will punish them if they question her authority. One patient, Harding, says, "All of us in here are rabbits of varying ages and degrees...We need a good strong wolf like the nurse to teach us our place" (Kesey 62).
This novel has a very strong theme of government rejecting those who are considered nonconformists in modern society. The government then places these nonconformists in mental institutions so it will not have to deal with them. This is society's way of ditching those with nonconformist attitudes so they will disappear from the world and be forgotten. According to one critic, oppressive, conformist, regulatory, civilization is the suppressor of individual freedom (Barsness 433). "He (McMurphy) hadn't let what he looked like run his life one way or the other,anymore than he'd let the Combine (the characters' metaphor for the government) mill him into fitting where they wanted him to fit...He's not gonna let them twist him and manufacture him" (Kesey 153).
McMurphy is symbolized as the typical individual, while Big Nurse Ratched is symbolized as a member of the system, or the Combine. Bromden narrates, "McMurphy doesn't know it, but he's onto what I realized a long time back, that it's not just the Big Nurse by herself, but it's the whole Combine, the nation-wide Combine that's the really big force, and the nurse is just a high-ranking official for them" (181).
How to Cite this Page
"The Individual and The System in Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey tells a story of Nurse Ratched, the head nurse of a mental institution, and the way her patients respond to her harsh treatment. The story is told from the perspective of a large, Native-American patient named Bromden; he immediately introduces Randle McMurphy, a recently admitted patient, who is disturbed by the controlling and abusive way Ratched runs her ward. Through these feelings, McMurphy makes it his goal to undermine Ratched’s authority, while convincing the other patients to do the same.... [tags: Randle McMurphy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest]
1791 words (5.1 pages)
- Kenneth Elton “Ken” Kesey September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001, was an American author, best known for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” He considered himself to be the link between the Beat Generation of the 1950’s and the hippies of the 1960’s. Some of his works include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)”, “Genesis West: Volume Five (1963)”, “Sometimes a Great Notion (1964)”, “Kesey’s Garage Sale (1973)”, “Demon Box (1986)”, “Caverns (1989)”, “The Further Inquiry (1990)”, “Sailor Song (1992)”, “Last Go Around (1994 written with Ken Babbs)”, “Twister (1994)” and “Kesey’s Jail Journal (2003)”.... [tags: Background, Themes, Movie]
695 words (2 pages)
- Societal influence can often lead one to the misconception of personal mental instability, this is evident in both two works by Ken Kesey and James Mangold. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey a charismatic criminal, Randle McMurphy is forcefully admitted to a state asylum despite his perfectly healthy mind. His minimal interaction with a supervising doctor reveals the complicated attitude the film takes towards mental illness. Throughout the film, the mental state of McMurphy continues to be questioned as he rebellion escalates with hospital authorities.... [tags: Psychiatry, Psychiatric hospital, Mental disorder]
1346 words (3.8 pages)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley both deal with enclosed cultures tightly controlled by an authority. Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in a psychiatric ward ruled by the ‘Big Nurse’ while Brave New World encompasses a wider society governed by the World State. Both societies function because dissent is prohibited. In each community an outsider appears who attempts to disrupt the control by exerting his free will. In both texts, free will must be eradicated because it is seen as a threat to the authority and stability of the society.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
1879 words (5.4 pages)
- The Oxford Dictionary defines institution as “a society or organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose”. On the contrary, an individual is defined as “a single human being as distinct from a group, class, or family”. Institutions are organizations created by groups of individuals in order to provide social order and guidelines for a community. Although institutions are intended for common good, they can ignore, manipulate or even enslave individuals. In corrupt institutions, authoritative figures maintain power by oppressing and persecuting those who threaten their authority and are even willing to exterminate individuals to protect the institutions.... [tags: The Trial Essays]
2225 words (6.4 pages)
- Chief is the narrator because if McMurphy were the narrator, he could not quite be telling the story as a fable. He would be empowered to control the path of the narrative--if he were still sane. But Chief, who has not been lobotomized but freed, recounts McMurphy's story and takes the lesson to the outside world. He becomes the messenger. Chief Bromden believes in the "fog" and the power of the "Combine." The fog is, on an individual level, a kind of mental dimness or confusion that also represents the thickness of delusion and suffering that prevents the inmates from seeing their true situation and their true selves.... [tags: Ken Kesey]
1516 words (4.3 pages)
- Antisocial Behavior in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest I. Diagnosis of Randal McMurpy. A. Character assessment of Randal McMurpy played by Jack Nicholson in the movie. B. Description of Antisocial behavior. II. How it affects those around them III. What is the treatment (if any) is there for this disease. A. Is it treatable. B. What medications are prescribed, if any. C. What kind of aftercare treatment is available. Treatment The main character, Randle Patrick McMurphy, is brought to a state mental institution from a state prison to be studied to see if he has a mental illness.... [tags: Papers]
723 words (2.1 pages)
- In What ways is Sexuality portrayed as central to the conflicts of the individual-v-society in Ken Kesey's One flew over the cuckoo's nest and Tennessee Williams A street car named desire. In What ways is Sexuality portrayed as central to the conflicts of the individual-v-society in Ken Kesey's 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' and Tennessee Williams 'A street car named desire'. The capacity of sexual feelings within the individual is central to both the development and fundamental basis of any significant character.... [tags: English Literature]
2387 words (6.8 pages)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Vs. Dead Poets Society "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." (Robert Frost) In today's world there is no tolerance for the individual thinker. It is not acceptable to modify or bend the rules of society. Society is civilized, and to be civilized there must be rules, regulations and policies that prevent. Individuality leads to a mess of chaos. To prevent disorder, institutions in society keep these rules strongly enforced.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2168 words (6.2 pages)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest This film unlike most others on the same topic had no real event to focus on. There was not just one climax or specific scene that the others built up to or supported. I cannot say that I enjoyed it but I do feel it has to a great extent affected me. The only reason I feel that this film is one worth watching is because of the latent message it holds. It very successfully exposes authority and bureaucracy in society. The characters in this film portray people that are either convinced or have been convinced that are crazy.... [tags: essays research papers]
1099 words (3.1 pages)
The social problem of the individual versus the system is a problem that has always existed and will never be extinguished from the modern world. The government will always wish to have control over people in some form or another, especially those who refuse to conform to society's desired standards. McMurphy demonstrates the struggle of the individual versus the system in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.