"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" Literary Analysis

Essay by doctorredoHigh School, 10th gradeB+, September 2007

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Literary AnalysisOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a grim story depicting the lives of workers and inmates in a mental ward. It is narrated by Chief Bromden, a seemingly deaf and mute Indian who actually, on the outside seems like a strong, fierce man, but is weakened by past experiences in life and in the ward. A nurse in the hospital, Nurse Ratched, uses punishment and torture to show her power over the inmates, with electro-shock therapy and lobotomy at her disposal. In the beginning of the story, Randle Patrick McMurphy brings light into the institution by opposing the all-powerful nurse and dignifying the inmates by doing battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. McMurphy helps each inmate grow in some way, and helps Chief Bromden realize that hiding from reality only hurts him more than the torture brought on by the mental ward.

Being held in the ward doesn't help the men; it only cuts them down from society and life. Throughout the novel, symbolism is shed through each of the characters, situations, and surroundings, and with that, the interpretation of life through Bromden's eyes and McMurphy's actions shows that strength and resistance from society's rulers gives strength to those who need it most.

Chief Bromden, the narrator of the story, talks about the nurse, ward, and McMurphy, but throughout the story, finds his own path to sanity. He is six foot eight inches tall, but feels he used to be big, but because he has been belittled for so long, he is weak and vulnerable. His father also was a strong and tall man, and married a white woman, who became the dominant force in the relationship. Bromden took his mother's last name as well, showing his father's...