Essay: Rebellion in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Fahrenheit 451" and "I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings" How do these 3 texts explore the nature of rebellion?

Essay by sugarbunny88High School, 10th grade December 2002

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Rebellion and its consequences are a common source of conflict in many texts. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Fahrenheit 451 and I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings are three examples of texts, which deal with rebellion as its central issue. The disturbance to an institution through protest is important for the development of the characters, plot and themes. In all three texts, there is a distinct group of individuals who hold and regulate power, and an opposing group who rebel against the establishment. However, the styles and techniques by which the rebellion is presented differ, and includes contrast, filming technique, images and characterisation.

The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, based on the novel by Ken Kesey entails an allegorical representation on the issue of rebellion. Set in an authentic mental hospital in Oregon, the film explores the heroic protagonist Randell McMurphy's arduous struggle against the hospital's institutional authority.

Although he initially agrees to 'cooperate with ya a hundred percent', his obvious non-conformist attitude is confronted with the stringent regulations of the doctors and nurses. Nurse Ratched in particular exercises supreme authority over every aspect of the ward. She maintains power through her strategic use of guilt and shame and her iron control over her own emotions. She also wields overbearing power over McMurphy by sending him for electroshock treatments, committing him to the hospital and finally having McMurphy lombotomised.

The hospital is undeniably in control of the fate of the patients through both physical and psychological manipulation, using medicine, technology and management. The bland music, desensitising sedatives, rigid routines and the intrusiveness of 'group therapy' sessions are some examples of the methods by which power is maintained over all patients, even McMurphy.

Randell McMurphy, as the key rebel of the film, challenges and ridicules...