One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Theme Analysis

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In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, written by Ken Kesey, there are many themes and symbols throughout. One of the most prominent themes, however, is over sexuality and how it affects a person when it is taken away, and when they are given complete freedom. In this novel, the constant clash between masculinity and emasculation alludes to the theme that too little or too much sexual freedom can be harmful to anyone. At the start, Nurse Ratched, the head nurse of the mental institution, destroys the patients’ masculinity and their sexual freedom with her action and her strong use of words. Before Randle McMurphy had joined the institution, Nurse Ratched had a tight grip around the male patients, often making fun of them and belittling them, never allowing them to show any positive emotions: “A man go around lettin' a woman whup him down till he can't laugh any more, and he loses one of the biggest edges he's got on his side.” (Kesey 68). Soon after, McMurphy’s presence when he is around other patients helps them express themselves more, which in turn causes Nurse Ratched to be even more harsh to McMurphy whenever she finds him. However, McMurphy is not affected by the words she throws at him: The Combine hasn’t got to him in all these years; what makes that nurse think she’s gonna be able to do it in a few weeks? He’s not gonna let them twist him and manufacture him. (Kesey 152 - 153). Chief Bromden talks about the Combine, which are all the machines and creations that are not natural. He states that since McMurphy has lived through all of …show more content…
None, however, are stronger and more prominent than the theme of emasculation. From the mental institution patients’ repressed urges, all the way down to Randle McMurphy’s underwear. The novel shows that when man’s desires and freedom of expression are withheld, the events afterwards can not only harm themselves, but all of those surrounding

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