Women as Authority Figures in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essay

Women as Authority Figures in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essay

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“We are victims of a matriarchy here my friends…” (Harding). A matriarchy is a social order where women have power. In the novel One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest the women are portrayed as the power figures and have the power manipulate, or control the men in the ward, as shown by the characters of Nurse Ratched, Mrs. Bibbit, and Vera Harding.
Nurse Ratched is a former army nurse who works in the ward, she has manipulates the men in many ways. One way is having the patients “spy on each other” making them write things down, they think she would want to hear, or know. Bromden described Nurse Ratched as having the ability to “set the wall clock to whatever speed she wants”, a metaphor for her control, showing how the patients lose track of time. Nurse Ratched acts authority on the ward shows controls how superior over the person who would normally be her Superior, such as, Dr. Spivey. Nurse Ratched is portrayed as the authority figure in the hospital. The patients see no choice but to follow her regulations that she had laid down for them. Nurse Ratched's appearance is strong and cold. She has womanly features, but hides them “Her Face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive… A mistake was made somehow in manufacturing putting those big, womanly breasts on what would have otherwise been a prefect work, and you can see how bitter she is about it.” (11) She kept control over the ward without weakness, until McMurphy came. When McMurphy is introduced into the novel he is laughing a lot, and talking with the patients in the ward, he does not seem intimidated by Miss Ratched. McMurphy constantly challenges the control of Nurse Ratched, while she tries to show she remains in control, He succeeds in some ways and lo...

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...both prostitutes who hardly speak out against the men and will do anything for them, this apparent when at the docks Candy was harassed by other men.
In Conclusion, In One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest there are intimidating women, Nurse Ratched, Mrs.Bibbit, and Vera Harding are representing characters of the matriarchy that reigns in the mental ward, and instills fear in the men which helps them remain in the ward to afraid to face the outside world. Candy Starr is in contrast to the other female characters, her stereotypical portrayal as a "hooker with a heart of gold" has led some critics to call the book sexist. The novel ignores gender equality, Nurse Ratched is a symbol of authority, which is tested by the numerous confrontations she experiences with the patients, in particular McMurphy, the only man in the ward not intimidated by the matriarchy that reigns.

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