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One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

  • Date Submitted: 10/02/2010 06:12 PM
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Ahn 1

English 10
Ryan Ahn
Knocking down a dictatorial society

A society under absolute authority fails to accomplish the original purposes of the society. Autocratic leaders ignore others’ opinions, and thus, are limited to their own judgments. One major problem of such societies is that leaders, ignoring people’s views, act only for themselves because they do not get punished. Thus, the choices being made are for the good of the individual, not for the good of the group, causing the societies fail to achieve their original goals. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey displaces this malfunction of society through Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched possesses full authority over the ward, and thus, she ignores others’ views and acts only for her desires. Consequently, the ward loses its therapeutic purposes and functions instead as a place that caters to Nurse Ratchet’s wishes.
The society under one’s autocratic power fails because decisions that are made are only for the good of leaders, not for groups. Nurse Ratched’s full power over the ward is symbolically confirmed by, “The Big Nurse is able to set the wall clock at whatever speed she wants by just turning one of those in the steel door” (Kesey 76). Everyone’s life has been adjusted to time, an absolute value that no one can control. By setting that the nurse has power over time, Kesey emphasizes her unlimited power. With this omnipotent authority, the nurse intimidates the patients to keep them under her control. The fog machine that is operated by the Big Nurse conveys a way of terrifying the patients, “Maybe all the guys finally and forever crowded back into the fog” (Kesey 134). This absolute authority enables the nurse to take humanity and
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independence out of the patients, confirmed by, “But they were all afraid of laughing; it’d been too long” (Kesey 81). The real reason for Nurse Ratched’s intimidating policy is shown through the comments of Harding, one of the patients, “That power...

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