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Essays On Women In One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

Women as Authority Figures in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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“We are victims of a matriarchy here my friends…” (Harding). A matriarchy is a social order where women have power. In the novel One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest the women are portrayed as the power figures and have the power manipulate, or control the men in the ward, as shown by the characters of Nurse Ratched, Mrs. Bibbit, and Vera Harding. Nurse Ratched is a former army nurse who works in the ward, she has manipulates the men in many ways. One way is having the patients “spy on each other” making them write things down, they think she would want to hear, or know. Bromden described Nurse Ratched as having the ability to “set the wall clock to whatever speed she wants”, a metaphor for her control, showing how the patients lose track of…show more content…

Nurse Ratched chooses to use outside influences to help her control her patients, as is the case with Billy Bibbit, whose mother is friends with the nurse. Mrs.Bibbit, Billy’s mother, and friends with Nurse Ratched, is another authoritative figure in the novel. Mrs. Bibbit gains her power by preventing Billy, from becoming an adult. At first Mrs. Bibbit does realize that Billy is an adult and is able to function in society, When his mother tells him he has plenty of time to accomplish things such as going to college, and Billy reminds his mother that he is thirty-one years old, she replies, "'Sweetheart, do I look like the mother of a middle-aged man?'" (Kesey 247). This shows that Billy’s mom does not seem to understand that Billy is an adult that is able to live in the outside world. This Results in him feeling Insecure and he chooses to remain in the ward. “Sure! It’s Billy, turned from the screen... If I had the guts.” (168). This takes place after McMurphy realizes that the men are there voluntary, Billy explains to McMurphy that he could leave at any time if he wanted to but he believes he doesn’t have the guts to go out in society. Unfortunately in the end it is just the fear of his own mother, and Nurse Ratched’s manipulative ways that causes him to take his own life. Another family member who manipulates her "loved one" is Vera Harding, whose control over her husband is similar to that of Billy and his mother. Vera Harding, the wife of Harding,

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Woman In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a comedy book in which he dealt with the issues of racism, sex and authority that is going on in a mental institute. In the novel, the women are depicted as the power figures who are able to significantly manipulate the patients on the ward. There are four ways of Ken Kesey’s using of “woman” as a subject: Superiority of male sexuality over female authority, matriarchal system that seeks to castrate men in the society, mother figures as counterpart of Big Nurse and “Womanish” values defined as civilizing in the novel.

Over centuries women have been objectified, meaning they have been treated as objects valued mostly for their physical attributes, rather than human intellect. And seeing that, Ken Kesey, with the character McMurphy, leaned towards the superiority of male sexuality over female authority. As a rebellious man (and a man making girls and women have sexual intercourse without consent), McMurphy, ruins Nurse Ratched’s authority with some moves that contain sexuality. Like one time, when McMurphy rips open her uniform, when he attempts to strangle her, he reveals her womanhood and humanity. This act of McMurphy helps to destroy the dominator nurse’s authority. In fact he not only destroys with his moves, but also does it orally. For example, when his name is spelled wrong (as McMurry ) by the doctor, he corrects him by using a sexual anecdote from his uncle (Hallahan). McMurphy’s uncle Hallahan –who was called Hooligan by a woman- stops her by raping her. The doctor asks McMurphy the way his uncle stopped her and McMurphy says : “Ah-ah now, I can’t be tellin’ that. I keep Unk Hallanhan’s method a strict secret, you see, in case I need to use it myself someday.” (Kesey 45), and he says this directly looking at the nurse. An incident like this happens during the group therapy when Nurse Ratched asks “ [...] his wife’s ample bosom at times gives him a feeling of inferiority . So. Does anyone care to touch upon this subject further?” and McMurphy, holding his hand up, asks for permission to speak and says “Touch upon what?” and Nurse Ratched in a shocked way says “What? Touch-” and adds “ Touch upon the subject of Mr. Harding’s problem with his wife.” And McMurphy says “Oh. I thought you mean touch upon her - something else.”(44). Speaking of breasts, McMurphy usually asks Big Nurse’s breast size, “the actual inch-by-inch measurement”, and he collapses her authority when she feels it’s topmost: “ [...] then destroyed her whole effect by asking something like did she wear a B cup, or a C cup, or any ol’ cup at all?”(176-7). So, as we can understand, McMurphy’s insulting manners to get over her dominion includes men sexuality with his fifty to position cards, his pride in having had a voracious fifteen-year-old lover and his Moby-Dick boxer shorts, clashes with the sterile and sexless ward that Nurse Ratched tries to maintain.

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