One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Uploaded by JarJarBinks on Jul 05, 2004
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated." There is indeed much to be said for this statement, as it can be taken to mean many things. Initial impressions are that Hemingway is speaking of personal honour, and how no man can have his honour taken away from him forcefully. No matter how great the suffering, or how undignified the death, the very nature of honour is that it is something that can only be lost through fault of the man. Hence the quote, you can "destroy" a man, but you cannot defeat his spirit. The quote can also be taken to suggest martyrdom; while the man himself may be dead, his cause and influence lives on in the hearts and minds of others. Lastly, the quote could be taken as describing someone who was defiant and true until the end, never relenting, even in the face of death or worse. All of these things can be said, in varying degrees, about the character of McMurphy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
The initial impression the reader gets of McMurphy is that of a roguish, liberal, free spirited, street wise, non-conformist and rather extroverted man - we immediately feel he is going to be a thorn in Nurse Ratched’s side. The Big Nurse is order and control, and in her eyes McMurphy could potentially be the harbinger of mayhem and disorder in her ward. He threats that which she works so hard maintain. Nurse Ratched seems only mildly concerned however, as she too recognizes McMurphy for what he is after observing him briefly with the other patients and the effect he has on them. Some of the patiens become excited, and even emboldened by McMurphy’s presence, while others appear frightened after recognizing the threat he poses to the stability they take refuge in. Nurse Ratched seems as if she has encountered his kind before, citing the term "manipulator" in reference to McMurphy and others like him. We can only assume she has conquered such patients before, as she seems very confident she will conquer ths one.
As McMurphy settles into the ward, things begin to change. His influence over the other patients is interesting, and rather heartwarming to behold. Emboldened by McMurphy’s influence, they begin to assert themselves in certain ways, such as standing up to the Big Nurse, or even making demands. Of...