Essay on Woman in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Essay on Woman in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a book in which he dealt with the issues of racism, sex and authority that is going on in a mental institute. In the novel, the women are depicted as the power figures who are able to significantly manipulate the patients on the ward. There are four ways of Ken Kesey’s using of “woman” as a subject: Superiority of male sexuality over female authority, matriarchal system that seeks to castrate men in the society, mother figures as counterpart of Big Nurse and “Womanish” values defined as civilizing in the novel.

Over centuries women have been objectified, meaning they have been treated as objects valued mostly for their physical attributes, rather than human intellect. And seeing that, Ken Kesey, with the character McMurphy, leaned towards the superiority of male sexuality over female authority. As a rebellious man (and a man making girls and women have sexual intercourse without consent), McMurphy, ruins Nurse Ratched’s authority with some moves that contain sexuality. Like one time, when McMurphy rips open her uniform, when he attempts to strangle her, he reveals her womanhood and humanity. This act of McMurphy helps to destroy the dominator nurse’s authority. In fact he not only destroys with his moves, but also does it orally. For example, when his name is spelled wrong (as McMurry ) by the doctor, he corrects him by using a sexual anecdote from his uncle (Hallahan). McMurphy’s uncle Hallahan –who was called Hooligan by a woman- stops her by raping her. The doctor asks McMurphy the way his uncle stopped her and McMurphy says : “Ah-ah now, I can’t be tellin’ that. I keep Unk Hallanhan’s method a strict secret, you see, in case I need t...


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...re messed-up whereas women even a prostitute wears clean and tasteful, some showing their womanly figures while some hides theirs.

To conclude, the usage of superiority of male sexuality over female authority, matriarchal system that seeks to castrate men in the society, mother figures as counterpart of Big Nurse and “Womanish” values defined as civilizing in the novel shows us the role of woman in society in those times. The characters of Nurse Ratched, Mrs. Bibbit, and Vera Harding are representative of the matriarchy that reigns in the mental ward. On a larger scale, these women exemplify the notion that women are to blame for the ills of society. Nonetheless, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest clearly illustrates a reversal in stereotypical gender roles, and serves as a constant reminder of the attitude biases still present in modern society.

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