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

Length: 821 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“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...


... middle of paper ...


...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.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

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

- 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....   [tags: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest]

Better Essays
2138 words (6.1 pages)

Leadership in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Leadership in the Real World

- Leadership in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Leadership in the Real World The theme of leadership in the ward does not mirror the outside world very accurately, as in contemporary society a leader of a society or an organisation is almost always accountable to a person senior to him. This is not seen in the novel, as Big Nurse seems to be answerable to no one, in fact, it is arguable that everyone answers to her. A hierarchy or class system operates inside the ward which can be clearly seen throughout the course of the novel....   [tags: Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest]

Better Essays
1609 words (4.6 pages)

Control Leads to Destruction in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- Control Leads to Destruction in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest         One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, is about patients and doctors in a mental institution.  The author talks a lot about what goes on in this institute.  The main points in this book deal with control, be it the character of McMurphy who is unable to handle control, or Nurse Ratched the head nurse on the ward whose job requires her to be in control. The world of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is dark; it is a place where control leads to destruction, but the novel shows through the character of The Chief that there is still hope if the people who are being controlled have the power to resi...   [tags: One Flew Over Cuckoos Nest]

Better Essays
833 words (2.4 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: Microcosm, Prejudice, Authority]

Better Essays
1004 words (2.9 pages)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

- The novel The One Who Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest written by Ken Kesey and The Crucible play written by Arthur Miller are both strong texts which represent a lot of important discourses. This essay will compare and contrast both texts by analysing the main discourses relevant to both texts. The One Who Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written in 1959 and published in 1962. It is set in a mental institution which investigates the process and the human mind. The novel constantly raises concern for the authorities that control individuals through subtle and forced methods....   [tags: Woman's Status, Satire]

Better Essays
875 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kessey

- Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is based largely through the conflict between Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy. Kesey explores the themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity, ideas that were widely discussed at the time about psychiatric hospitals. The book is narrated by “Chief” Bromden, a gigantic and half- Native American patient who is thought to be deaf and mute. Bromden focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle McMurphy, who is out to manipulate the system to his advantages....   [tags: rebellion, nurses, patients, conflict]

Better Essays
1009 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Persecution Explored in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Trial

- 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]

Better Essays
2225 words (6.4 pages)

Motifs and Images in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey Essay example

- In Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest there are many recurring motifs and images. One very prominent motif is laughter. Following the motif of laughter throughout the novel, it is mostly associated with McMurphy and power/control. McMurphy teaches the patients how to laugh again and with the laughter the combine loses control and the patients gain their power back. McMurphy’s first day on the ward, just seconds after entering the room and getting a good look at all the patients, he lets out a rumbling laugh that practically shakes the walls....   [tags: big nurse, McMurphy]

Better Essays
848 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on Weakening the Combine in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

- Weakening the Combine in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest When norms of society are unfair and seem set in stone, rebellion is bound to occur, ultimately bringing about change in the community. Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest demonstrates the conflict of individuals who have to survive in an environment where they are pressured to cooperate. The hospital's atmosphere suppresses the patients' individuality through authority figures that mold the patients into their visions of perfection....   [tags: essays research papers]

Better Essays
1231 words (3.5 pages)

Insanity is Independence Essay

- Conformity, whether good or bad for society, is never beneficial for the individual. In the late 40’s and 50’s people conformed or they were excluded. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel about non-conformists, the people who can’t be the same, and more who didn’t want to be identical. These are the insane ones. The sane ones are the authoritative figures who mentally, physically, and sexually abuse the patients, but they are also the people who decide what is right and healthy for the insane....   [tags: Analysis, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ]

Better Essays
1259 words (3.6 pages)