She is a non-humane machine that wields power over all the patients by exposing all their vulnerabilities and using fear and intimidation, exemplified in Hardings lines, She has a genius for insinuation¦ I have been accused of a multitude of things, of jealousy and paranoia, of not being male enough to satisfy my wife ¦ Ball cutter? Oh, you underestimate her! (Pg 60) Not only does she use her power to take away the patients manhood, but additionally causes their fear and shame of their differences to make them feel more inadequate then ever.
Her abuse of power ultimately results in Cheswicks and Billy Bibbits suicides, showing on a wider level the destructive consequences of power abuse in society. However, Kesey still offers hope through use of plot and symbolism to suggest that power can nevertheless be defeated through ones own inner power and self-belief. The novel begins with Bromden consistently in the fog symbolic of his own fear and with the patients cowering under the authority of Nurse Ratched.
As the Christ figure McMurphy enters and ultimately destroys Nurse Ratcheds power by exposing her femineity, his moral triumph over her completes the process of patients regaining their self belief and inner power. Bromden shows this with the lines She couldnt rule with her old power any more ¦ she was losing her patients one after the other. In strong contrast to the bleak beginning, he picks up the control panel and throws it against the window to get out.
The control panel symbolises power and authority, and thus Kesey shows that through inner strength and belief in oneself, it can still be overthrown and defeated. Effective use of Bromden to passively observe the abuse of power and McMurphy to embody the fight and triumph over it ensures that readers become highly involved and concerned about this socially important message. Through Bromdens eyes, readers explore Keseys message and look at society in a new and more critical way while uplifting and inspirational hope is experienced by McMurphys destruction of Nurse Ratcheds power.
The novel is therefore fully gratifying for it is both mentally and emotionally stimulating. It is certainly true that many sexist and racist elements occur in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The only good-hearted females are prostitutes, implying that females are only good if they offer themselves to males. Females are seen as the ones who control the conformist and power-abusing system, shown in Hardings lines of the doctor doesnt hold the power ¦ that power goes to the supervisor, and the supervisor is a woman ¦
We are victims of a matriarchy here, my friend. (Pg 59) In addition to its sexist elements, the novel also has many racist aspects for the only black people are the cruel henchmen of Nurse Ratched who reinforce her power and machine-like efficiency. However, though this novel has elements of sexism and racism mainly due to its characterisation, it is still nevertheless a rewarding read because these elements are relatively minor and do not interfere with Keseys socially important messages.
Keseys critique of treatment for mental patients, abuse of power and conformity within society are highly relevant even in todays modern world. Through using plot, characterisation, narration and symbolism, he exposes many of societys flaws to us and cause us to question the accepted ways of societys thinking and our place in it. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ken Kesey section.