"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" by Kesey. A bitter commentary on the condition of the American society

Essay by Sandeep DeHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 1997

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Kesey's brilliant work in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is the by-product of many factors. Kesey uses the setting of the story as his most powerful weapon in establishing his viewpoints. At first, one might consider the story to simply be a fine piece of contemporary fiction, but in reality it is a bitter commentary on the condition of the American society. Obviously, it becomes evident that Kesey will convey many viewpoints throughout the course of the story, however, I strongly believe that a recurring theme can be singled out. The main theme behind One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is that the society that we love so much is not as good as it is made out to be. Kesey establishes this theme through the brilliant manipulation of setting. Kesey uses the specific setting of a fictional mental asylum to represent the non-specific realities of the real world.

The literary term for such a technique is the use of a 'microcosm' - a small universe representative of a larger one. Kesey uses the environment of the mental asylum to demonstrate just how hypocritical society can be.

As aforementioned, Kesey utilizes many symbols that represent elements in the real world. The very fact that the story takes place in a mental asylum is in itself a commentary on society. In the asylum, it becomes highly evident that a great deal of oppression takes place. Although a considerable amount of abuse is in the physical form, most of it manifests itself in subtle psychological torture. The abuse that specifically takes place is the suppression of individualism. One cannot help but notice the same suppression of individualism to exist in society as well. Inside the hospital, the men are expected to not only act within strict guidelines, but to...