Was Randall P. McMurphy a saviour or a psychopath in "One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest"?

Essay by davu4evaHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2006

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The character of Randall P. McMurphy in Ken Kesey's acclaimed film, 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest', displays characteristics that are commonly associated with being both a psychopath and a saviour. The film is set in an American mental institution in the early 1960's, which means that the attitudes of the staff, and community in general, towards mental illness were a lot different to that of the twenty-first century. McMurphy's persona seemed to be constantly changing throughout the film to fit each situation; whether he was being a madman towards his superiors or being the nice guy to his fellow inmates McMurphy always 'tried' to know what to do. "Mac", as the inmates knew him developed into a man who was on the good side of evil, slightly eccentric and mischievous but underneath a warm, loveable gentleman who would break an arm and a leg to help his friends. It is for this reason that the character of Randall P.

McMurphy is comparative to Jesus Christ - he empowered and cured others to the dissatisfaction of his superiors.

The argument for that of saviour is a very positive one with Randall showing many times that he is indeed a saviour. There was one main character in the film, Chief, whom Randall formed a special bond with. In a way, Randall actually saved Chief from a desolate life in the asylum. When Randall first arrived at the asylum, Chief was a "deaf, mute Indian" and none of the other inmates talked to him or cared enough about him to involve him in anything. Their relationship started with Randall cracking wise guy jokes around him but after an afternoon game of basketball, they formed a closer bond. This game really set up Randall's character as a larrikin who cared. There were another...