Ryan don’t misunderstand me, we’re not in here because

Ryan WangPeriod 8-9″Three geese in a flock… One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” (P. 243). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, takes place in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon. The novel’s narrator, Chief Bromden, is a schizophrenic Native American who feigns deafness. Bromden is a patient in a ward run by Nurse Ratched, a former Army nurse who urges the patients to spy and attack one another. One morning, the psychiatric ward encounters a new transfer, a patient known as Randle McMurphy. McMurphy instructs the other patients on how to gamble and immediately challenges the rules set in place by Nurse Ratched. Kesey uses symbolism and motif to display the hierarchy of society, control over freedom and the power of laughter.The author uses symbolism to display the hierarchy of society. Throughout the novel, rabbits and wolves are used to represent the weak and the strong in society. One of the patients, Harding, explains to McMurphy that they are the rabbits and Nurse Ratched is the wolf. The patients are not in the ward due to their rabbithood, but rather because they cannot adjust to life outside the ward. The author writes, “Oh, don’t misunderstand me, we’re not in here because we are rabbits… we’re all in here because we can’t adjust to our rabbithood. We need a good strong wolf like the nurse to teach us our place” (P. 55). The use of symbolism, expressed in rabbits and wolves, shows how the weak require the strong to show them their individuality.Kesey uses symbolism to show control over freedom. Throughout the novel, Chief Bromden experiences hallucinations of fog drifting into the psychiatric ward. For Bromden, the fog is a place where he can hide and escape reality. Beyond Bromden’s perception, the fog represents Nurse Ratched’s complete control over the patients, as they retain no control over their bodies while in the fog. Once McMurphy is transferred to the ward, the patients are pulled out of the fog. The author writes, “You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself” (P.110). The hallucination of fog symbolizes how a totalitarian figure may have complete control over one’s individual characteristics.The author uses motif to demonstrate the power of laughter. Throughout the novel, laughter is used as an allegory for freedom. Before the arrival of McMurphy, no one dared laugh or shout. However, as McMurphy walks in, he demonstrates his independence apart from the captivity Nurse Ratched imposes on the patients. The author writes, “It’s McMurphy’s laugh free and loud and comes out of his wide grinning mouth and spreads in rings bigger and bigger till it’s lapping against the walls all over the ward” (P.10). By the ending of the novel, the rest of the patients are able to have boisterous laughter, a sign of their freedom from Nurse Ratched. Kesey writes, “I could look down and see myself and the rest of the guys… swinging a laughter that rang out on the water in ever-widening circles, farther and farther…” (P. 211). The use of motif reveals how laughter contributes a sense of individuality while under oppressive rule.Through elements such as symbolism and motif, Kesey demonstrates the hierarchy of society, control over freedom, and the power of laughter. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should be rated seven-out-of-ten cuckoos. Just as cuckoos can be annoying at times, this novel will drive one crazy with its racist and misogynistic undertones, but will be worth every chirp. In the end, McMurphy attempts to strangle Nurse Ratched to death after a patient commits suicide. McMurphy is given a lobotomy, and Chief Bromden decides to put McMurphy out of his misery. Bromden then escapes out of a window and proceeds to journey to Canada. Though McMurphy’s rebellion against society may have been quashed, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest remains an unforgettable tale about one man’s struggle to keep his individuality.

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