Cuckoo's Nest Gender Roles

912 Words 4 Pages
From the mid-twentieth century, the role of females in society has drastically transitioned from traditional to more modernized. In Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the author emphasizes the roles of females by presenting characters that exhibit behaviors contrasting the expected ones given by society. He assigns perceived nurturing and caring characters, such as a nurse, wife, and mother, dominating and abrasive roles that contradict typical roles at that time. However, during the 1950s, other minority groups, such as prostitutes and the Japanese, were discriminated against in society. Throughout the plot, two prostitutes and a Japanese nurse show compassion and sympathy to the male patients, thereby empowering the men while …show more content…
After gaining a dominating power over the men in the ward, Nurse Ratched attempts to hide her femininity and sexuality so she will not be undermined by the patients or doctor and is not stigmatized as a “weak woman”. During that time in society, women were viewed as weak and menial. As evident in war propaganda posters, women were traditionally viewed as a housewife who possessed little power. Harrington chooses to show the transition of women from irrelevant to empowered (Harrington n.pag.). However, Kesey shows how gender roles are reversed in the novel from society by allowing Ratched to attain such an immense amount of power. The Nurse, rather than embracing the current feminist movement, hides her sexuality in order to maintain her authority. During the 1950s, men often dominated the workplace, forcing women to succumb to their authority. Nurse Ratched clearly defies this stereotype by maintaining complete control over the ward. She is capable of manipulating the doctor, aids, and patients into following her orders, which leads Harding to say that the ward is run by a matriarchy. (Kesey 56). Harding acknowledges how rare it is for women to control the majority of the authoritative power in the workplace. In addition, it shows how the nurse controls the men in the ward, making them victims to her abusive power. In the

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