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The ward is in the grip of the genteel, quietly tyrannical Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), and the anti-establishment McMurphy loosens that. The combine is the institution itself. In the "combine" all runs according to a set of rules that are never broken or questioned. Chief Bromden. Reader #1-Nurse Ratched and McMurphy both have very different Tension usually never works out in a relationship and can cause the two people to become.
She manipulates the maternal role by putting a hand on his neck and implicitly assigning him the role of the infant in need of her breast.
Her femininity is narrated in such violent and hyperbolic terms that, instead of being an individual, she turns into a particular stereotype of femininity: From this perspective, her individuality is lost under the gaze of male objectification. The breasts take on life of their own due to the hyperbolic adjectives used to describe them, which makes them aggressive and intimidating. Indeed, as Daniel J. Nurse Ratched becomes here a signifier that subordinates an individual self not only to the generic category of female but also to an abstraction, Evil.
His description draws on a series of stereotypical male properties: The contrast in size between McMurphy and Billy serves to further establish McMurphy as the alpha male.
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By associating McMurphy with sexual arousal, his role as the stereotypical, sex-driven masculine energy of the novel is undeniable. McMurphy, similarly to Nurse Ratched, becomes here a signifier for masculinity.
He is recognised as an abstraction rather than a person and his individual character is lost. The power of conformity: However, this is not solely due to their submission to tyrannical femininity and hyper masculinity, but also because they submissively follow their institutional roles of employee and inmate. When Nurse Ratched discusses the potential use of the other day room with Dr.
University of California Press,p. Her authentic self is hidden behind the institutional pressure of conforming to her role as an employee. The insanity lies in the standardisation of behaviour and emotion that the impersonal institution obliges her to submit to, depriving her of the possibility to be true to herself.'Strangle Scene'.. 'Nurse Ratched' gets what she had 'coming' to her.. lol ;)
Of the famous fourteen inches? McMurphy may value individual identity over imposed identity, but he is himself incredibly restricted by conventional masculine expectations. Nor does McMurphy appear to behave himself in a way that corresponds to a true self.
Again, this glimpse of a different McMurphy in the dark, demonstrates how his true self is hidden underneath his efforts to conform to a certain image. Fick likens McMurphy to a modern superhero but makes a distinction: In other words, McMurphy is not able to manoeuvre between his public and private selves: Although to a lesser degree than Nurse Ratched, McMurphy, too, appears to conform to external and thus oppressive pressures placed upon him by his peers.
In doing so, he loses his individuality and consequently risks his own sanity. Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company,p. He both participates in the discourse of madness as a member of the institution, and simultaneously, by pretending to be mute and deaf, avoids active participation in the discourse. This becomes evident when Bromden begins to explain his memories: You don't look like you have all these things" KeseyCandy succeeds in disregarding Billy's disabilities and perhaps the emasculation with which they are intrinsically linked.
Candy is also literally correct: As with Harding's seeming lack of impairment, the only display of Billy's disability is his pervasive stammer, and Candy's statement could encourage the men's realization that they are "men now. No more rabbits" Kesey and thus on their way to overcoming, as Bromden does, their emasculations-as-disabilities. After Billy loses his virginity to Candy, even his stammer is "fixed," if briefly: He took the girl's hand in his and grinned. The return of the stammer coincides with the return of Billy's emasculation, caused by the double threat of Ratched's presence and the pointed suggestion that she does not know "how [Billy's] poor mother is going to take this" Kesey Nurse Ratched clearly utilizes the men's emasculation-disabilities to maintain her strict control over them.
The accusations leveled at her by the men of the ward tellingly center around this: Ratched, the leader of the therapy sessions, encourages the patients to see themselves as emasculated — she is the one who labels Harding's wife as his "problem" — and also to see each other as "failures" as men, encouraging them to turn on one another by reporting behavior in her log book. Bromden implies that her intention is to create a lack of unity, or brotherhood, when he notes "[i]t was better than she'd dreamed.
Representation of madness in Kesey's One flew over the cuckoo's nest
They were all shouting to outdo one another" Kesey Kesey also makes it clear that Ratched's power extends to all of the men she is in contact with, including Doctor Spivey, who has "maybe got more to say, but […] the Big Nurse usually hushes him" Kesey 44and who also "escapes" with the patients for the fishing trip.
Characterizing the doctor as practically a patient further reduces the significance given to their impairments in contrast to their troubles with masculinity. Kesey has inverted the doctor-nurse relationship usually found in asylums at the time, where the women in care roles "must defer to the male scientific authority" Carlsonseemingly to underline the fact that the men of the ward are "ordinary," united with the "normal" doctor under the power of Ratched.
As Ratched's power is enforced through her emasculation of the patients and doctorand the successfully emasculated men in the novel are "ordinary" otherwise, the novel seems to imply that an inverted patriarchal norm creates, or in fact is, a disability.
By supplying this association, the novel reinforces traditional gender norms; the result is that Nurse Ratched represents what the novel sees as "abnormal," an aggressive matriarch, a female with masculine traits: Reinforcing the idea of Ratched as masculinized are the attempts on her part to hide her femininity.
Her bag contains "no compact or lipstick or woman stuff" Kesey 4and her uniform is "starched so stiff it don't exactly bend in any place" Kesey 38covering her shape. In fact, Bromden often chooses to figure her as an automaton: Her sexuality or femininityunsurprisingly symbolized by her breasts, is, in terms of the novel's logic, shown to be Ratched's own disability: Bromden claims "[a] mistake was made somehow in manufacturing, putting those big, womanly breasts on what would otherwise have been a perfect work, and you can see how bitter she is about it" Kesey 6.
Ratched loses the last of her control when McMurphy "rip[s] her uniform all the way down the front," exposing her as a woman Kesey After her re-feminization or her own "ball-cutting" by McMurphy, her new uniform "could no longer conceal the fact that she was a woman," and it is implied that because of this, "[s]he couldn't rule with her old power anymore" Kesey This representation of gender within the novel is somewhat troubling.
McMurphy is the liberator of the inmates: In contrast, Nurse Ratched is figured as the perhaps more mentally-unstable character, whose power must be overcome, presumably to restore "natural order. Instead, Kesey minimizes the mental disabilities of the male patients while highlighting the inability of a woman to have control over men and keep it without resorting to emasculatory tactics.
In his attempts to explore and criticize the cultural script of male emasculation, Kesey arguably replaces his representation of disability with one of emasculation. This in part enables Kesey to dismantle the stereotypes of mental disability, focusing on the personalities of the patients, instead of obscuring individuality by repetitively portraying stereotypical symptoms of mental illness.
But this replacement also reduces mental disabilities to problems of masculinity, which can simply be "solved" by the injection of testosterone that is McMurphy. Other problems with the plot occur in the representation of a woman or an institutional system that abuses power: While the novel inventively causes a reassessment of the reader's investment in stereotypes of mental disability, it ultimately reinforces gender stereotypes: Her interests include badminton and dance.
Works Cited Carlson, Licia. Feminist Reflections on the History of Mental Retardation. Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography. Toward a New Psychology of Gender: Gergen and Sarah N.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Sexism in Kesey's Cuckoo's Nest. U of New Mexico P, Endnote The prejudices regarding mental disabilities of course extend to the linguistic difficulties faced in discussing them: While every care has been taken in this essay to avoid terms with negative connotations, the author acknowledges that some terms used may be developing or develop such associations in the future.
All terms used are meant as neutrally as possible, unless connected to a sentiment found in the text discussed, and therefore do not represent the author's personal feelings.