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The Religious Refrences in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke

  • Date Submitted: 12/02/2012 05:34 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.8 
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There are times when a martyr must occur for people to find an individual strength within them. In the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and the movie Cool Hand Luke directed by Stuart Rosenberg, the use of religious imagery and allusions depicts both main characters from the novel and the movie as saviors who free the other characters from oppression.
    In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy’s (the main characters) role as a messianic or Christ-like savior becomes substantial early on in the read. His honest, heartfelt laughter is seen as a way to free the patients from the Combine’s clutches and their absurdity, which is related to praying for deliverance from one’s sins. At one point in the novel one of the characters named Chief Bromden comments on McMurphy’s laughter. He says, “He knows you have to laugh…to keep the world from running you plum crazy” (92).
    Laughter plays a religious role in the movie Cool Hand Luke because it is something that was regularly done by the main character Luke to show the other characters that sometimes you have to make the best of what you have. At the end of the film the character Dragline is describing Luke as someone who was always smiling and laughing no matter what.
      Betrayal in Cuckoo’s Nest is represented as the religious “Last Supper” on the ward. The party on the ward appropriately accomplished the role of Christ turning water into wine when cough syrup is turned into alcohol. Also the character Harding sprinkles pills over two patient’s heads which is related to the idea of a baptism. One of the characters Billy Bibbit commits suicide after betraying McMurphy by giving him up to Nurse Ratched. This relates to the story of Judas committing suicide after betraying Jesus.
      Luke is betrayed at least twice throughout the movie. Once is during his first escape from the work farm when another inmate tries to escape when he does, but is so noisy that he draws...


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