One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Author: Ken Kesey

Essay by sayeCollege, UndergraduateB-, September 2004

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The major character in "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" is R.P. Mc Murphy. The story is set in a mental hospital and there are a number of minor characters who are the acute patients in the ward. It is the interaction of Mc Murphy with minor characters which cause to change and gives the reader an understanding of Mc Murphy's character. At the beginning of the novel Mc Murphy arrives in the ward, he has been convicted of violence and sentenced to a prison work farm. He manipulated the situation there so he can get himself committed, and thus a better life. Mc Murphy is a redheaded, loudmouthed swaggering cowboy who says "I am a gambling man with a zest for woman and cards". The idea of setting up gambling groups with the other men was for the purpose of getting their money, which makes him a self-centered, sane, powerful, greedy and self-serving at the beginning.

At the end of the novel he is a helpless vegetable, having sacrificed himself for the benefit of all the patients. He turned out to be a leader, liberal, generous and self-sacrificing.

An important minor character is Chief Bromden because he is the narrator, it is his development, narration and perception of the situation that reveals Mc Murphy's character. Bromden's perceptions in the novel makes it clear to the reader how he has grown and gained confidence through out the novel. "It doesn't seem like I have ever been me. How can Mc Murphy be what he is?" This quote shows how Chief Bromden is experiencing and reacting to the thought that Mc Murphy has the ability to express his "real" self rather than hiding it. Bromden pretends to be "deaf and dumb" but then his character builds up with the help of...