Journey To Self-Destruction in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Journey To Self-Destruction in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Length: 561 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Journey To Self-Destruction in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the character of Randle P. McMurphy undergoes a gradual journey towards self-destruction. His actions go from the minuscule, such as changing minor ward policies, to the act of trying to strangle Nurse Ratched. All of his actions, minor and major, lead to his self-destruction. He continues this behavior even after he discovers he's only hurting himself with his actions.

McMurphy begins by protesting minor but significant defects of the ward policies. When he first arrives, he runs around in nothing but a towel and provokes shock and anger from the Big Nurse. His actions let the nurses and patients know that he won't simply sit back and take the staff's cruel treatment to get the patients to conform quietly and without protest. He begins to gamble with the patients, first for cigarettes and eventually for IOUs, despite the nurse's rule of no gambling on the ward for money (Kesey 102). He also convinces the spineless Dr. Spivey to allow the patients to open up a separate day room for their card games. He uses the doctor to implement these changes, which aggravates the nurse because it takes away her power. The resentment between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched continues to build.

McMurphy brings about all these changes before he realizes one vital fact: Nurse Ratched is the sole determiner of how long he must stay in the ward. He's watching television while everyone else is completing their chores. The nurse says to him, "You're committed, you realize. You are ... under the jurisdiction of me...the staff...Under jurisdiction and control-" (138). The nurse also says, "Keep in mind that Mr. McMurphy is committed. The length of time he spends in this hospital is entirely up to us" (150).

McMurphy relaxes slightly; however, he eventually continues to harass the nurse, despite his knowledge that she dictates the length of his confinement (Waldmeir 425). He crosses the line and throws a party on the ward in the middle of the night, bringing in two prostitutes and intoxicating the patients with a mixture of cherry flavored alcohol and codeine cough syrup. He does so knowing that he will face consequences for this event. However, he feels he must continue this self-destruction in order for the other patients to find themselves and their sense of freedom ( 427).

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Journey To Self-Destruction in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." 26 Feb 2020

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

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” (   [tags: Ken Kesey Flew Cuckoo's Nest Essays]

Research Papers
1184 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Insanity: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Keyse

- Insanity is a blurred line in the eyes of Ken Kesey. He reveals a hidden microcosm of mental illness, debauchery, and tyranny in his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The remarkable account of a con man’s ill-fated journey inside a psychiatric hospital exposes the horrors of troubling malpractices and mistreatments. Through a sane man’s time within a crazy man’s definition of a madhouse, there is exploration and insight for the consequences of submission and aberration from societal norm....   [tags: Insanity and Identity, chief bromden]

Research Papers
1738 words (5 pages)

Essay about One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- 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]

Free Essays
1516 words (4.3 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: literary analysis]

Research Papers
897 words (2.6 pages)

Comparison of Book and Film of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

- Comparison of Book and Film of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey There are differences and similarities in the book "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" by Ken Kesey and the movie, which is based on the novel. The characters are the same, so is Nurse Ratchard in both the book and the movie represented as an angry and two faced woman. She wants to have the absolute control over the ward and therefore manipulates the men....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
914 words (2.6 pages)

In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Why Does Chief Bromden trust, Essay

- In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Why Does Chief Bromden trust, befriend and then murder Randle Patrick McMurphy. First published in 1962, 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'-the book by Ken Kesey- follows the journey of a man named Randle Patrick McMurphy through a North American mental institution in the 1960s. McMurphy is a prisoner who pleaded insanity in order to escape a lengthy prison sentence for statutory rape-which turns out to have been with an underage girl; "Whoa. Couldn't make that stick', McMurphy says to the doctor....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
2648 words (7.6 pages)

Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place Essay example

- “Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place” was written and directed by Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood. The documentary is based on the words and recordings of Ken Kesey and the unseen footage from the 1964 cross country trip. The voiceover is done by Stanley Tucci. “Magic Trip” was produced by Will Clarke, Mr. Gibney and Alexandra Johnes and released by Magnolia Pictures. This documentary was compiled from home videos shot by Kesey and the Pranksters, which lends itself to a sense of authenticity because there are to actors trying to portray the Pranksters....   [tags: Film Review]

Research Papers
1041 words (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]

Research Papers
710 words (2 pages)

Essay on Chief Bromden's Escape in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

- Chief Bromden's Escape in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest How can you be big and small at the same time. In Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chief Bromden is one of the inmates in an insane asylum who escapes the Institution. Many of the other inmates are afraid of the Institution and cannot escape. How does Chief escape. McMurphy helps him break free. He teaches Chief how to be strong and independent again. He listens to Chief and helps him get back his self-confidence....   [tags: Ken Kesey Cuckoo's Nest]

Free Essays
1212 words (3.5 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]

Research Papers
1163 words (3.3 pages)

Related Searches

Sure enough, once Nurse Ratched discovers what has happened, McMurphy is sentenced to three shock treatments. After these treatments fail to affect his behavior, he attacks the nurse viciously and is taken away to be lobotomized. His actions finally destroy him.

McMurphy sacrifices his own life so that the other inmates can find life. He purposely destroys himself so that the other patients realize what the institution might do to them if they ever resist conformity. After his death, all but a few of the patients leave the ward-- against medical advice-- to find their freedom. They understand that McMurphy destroyed himself in order for them to get out while they still can. They also realize that what the institution is doing is not for their own good, but for the good of the government's desire to achieve total conformity. McMurphy has become a martyr to the men. Their new sense of freedom and individualism to can be attributed only to him.


Return to