One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest- Forman Vs. Kesey

Essay by sammysamwiseHigh School, 12th grade May 2004

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"Foreman's film version dilutes Kesey's meaning, but makes the text much more accessible"

This phrase rings very true when concerning both Milos Forman's film version and Ken Kesey's novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest." Both portray basically the same ideals, meaning and storyline, but are presented from two very differing perspectives. I believe that the narration of the story is the foundation of the quote above, and I think it affects both the accessibility and the impact of the two texts.

In Ken Kesey novel, the story of the psychiatric hospital is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a half Native American Indian, who feigns being deaf and dumb to protect himself from any grief. He is the observer of the ward, and relays the information he gathers to the reader. He is also one of the central characters in the story, however he is not the focus of the novel.

The Chief suffers from a particular mental illness (more then likely Schizophrenia), which distorts his view of society (both in the confines of the hospital, and in the wider sense of humanity). Although the Chief perhaps presents a realistic portrayal of what it is like to be trapped in the head of someone with a mental illness, his grip on reality has somewhat slipped, and his clarity, at times, can be questionable.

The theory of the 'Combine' is a prime example of this. The 'Combine,' although it is a metaphor for wider society, is all in the Chief's head. This does make the novel hard to follow, because the reader has to separate the fact from fiction, and formulate in their mind, which events are actually taking place, and which are a product of the Chief's distorted perception. This aspect of the novel may discourage less...