The novel One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey explores the life of a patient at a mental institute named Chief Bromden through first person point of view. The patient however does not have a diagnosis instead pretends to be deaf and dumb. Due to chief Bromdens false diagnosis he is able to see and understand things that are hidden from other patients. Characters throughout the novel are used to reinforce or challenge the viewers accepted ideas, values and attitudes about particular culture or groups within society.
The antagonist of the novel, Nurse Ratched challenges society’s stereotypical ideologies of the average nurse. People often consider nurses to be gracious, caring and compassionate, unlike Nurse Ratched who thrives on power and the destruction of others lives. Nurse Ratched challenges our preconceived ideas of nurses and their behaviour towards patients as the story begins to unravel. She is portrayed as crude, powerful and commanding dictating her whole ward of the mental institution. She uses her patient’s mental state to gain absolute power of the ward whilst the whole time the patients are oblivious to her vindictive attitude.
“Miss Ratched is a veritable angel of mercy and why just everyone knows it. She’s unselfish as the wind, toiling thanklessly for the good of all, day after day, five long days a week. That takes heart, my friend, heart.”
Page 55, Harding
As the novel was set in the 1950’s society was experiencing a range of injustice issues from dominance of men over women and white over black. Nurse Ratched’s attitudes and values represent her resentment of men and the power that they have over women. She transfers her anger of the injustice in society into the mental hospital as all of her patients are men. She influences them to feel ashamed of themselves and group meetings are often held so patients can express negative emotions of past sins. Nurse Ratched leads the meetings beginning with bringing attention to a...