Cuckoo's Nest Essay Sometimes in life people are forced to conform to a certain situation for lack of a better alternative, and this is the case in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. These such people lack the will to stand up for their scruples, and intern are simply guided through their mundane lives by the powers that be. Until someone comes along offering them leadership and the prospect to become "big again." The man who does so is no other than R. P.
McMurphy. Scanlon, Harding, Bibbit, and Chief Bromden may have become adjusted to the oppressive system in which they lived, but certainly were much better adjusted to the real world and life in general after their experience with McMurphy. Some people may argue that the people of the mental hospital were better off without McMurphy because their lives were "normal" and routine. Their daily routine guided them through a series of happenings, which were both comfortable and tolerable to them, even though as a result of this they would remain subject to the manipulative ways of Nurse Ratchet. These people would say that the "oppressive society" that they lived in may not suit everyone, but certainly suited them.
McMurphy, on the other hand, finds this setting to be suitable for no human being, and soon after arriving he sets the tone for change. " Well what they got that man strapped down for," says McMurphy, " I don't like that, no sir, it just aint dignified." By coming to the hospital he brings a sense of realism and courage to the lives of these patients. They have been longing for leadership and McMurphy won't be intimidated. "I'm think in' a takin' over this whole shebang," says McMurphy, and he knows in order to do this he must instill courage into the patients of the ward. As we are first introduced to the characters, we as the reader meet Harding, a middle aged man, who wears glasses and basically keeps to himself, saying only what he feels need be said. "Miss Ratched is a veritable angel of mercy and why, everybody knows it.
She's unselfish as the wind, toiling thanklessly for the good of all, day after day, seven days a week... Oh no my egomaniac buddy, she is dedicated, she gives every bit of herself, she desires nothing more to see us walk out of her adjusted and capable once more of coping with life," says Harding. What Harding does not yet know is McMurphy will prepare him for society much more than Ratched could ever possibly do. McMurphy is a figure of all that society is; blunt, sporadic, and unpredictable, unlike the predictable lifestyle the patients have in the hospital. Soon McMurphy encourages Harding to break the rules by exposing him to the gambling, which he has known so well from the outside world. " I am wagering that I can bug her so she comes apart at the neat little seams and shows you guys she ain't as unbeatable as you think," McMurphy says about Ratched.
Harding gladly takes the bet and even puts odds on it "fifteen to five." McMurphy also gets Harding riled when he stages a pretend baseball on the television, Harding exclaims, " Run, you mother loving turkey, run!" knowing very well that he will anger Nurse Ratched. Just from a few days with McMurphy, Harding has become more independent and confident than he has been for the last dozen years. Towards the end of the play Harding has gained so much confidence and courage that he deliberately says, "Lady we think you are full of so much bull," to Nurse Ratchet, the woman whom he had feared for years. Slowly McMurphy is unintentionally building him up to the point where he can become adjusted the every day life and eventually re-enter the outside world. A second person which McMurphy affects is Billy Bibbit, the youngest patient on the ward. When McMurphy first comes to the hospital, Billy is nothing but an innocent boy, afraid to confront other people, and stand up for what he feels and believes.
In the beginning of the play he is deathly afraid of Miss Ratched, but even more so the prospect that she will tell his mother if he misbehaves. At first Billy is skeptical of McMurphy as he taunts him about his plan to break out saying, " Yeah? You " re talking so big, how would you break out." Billy is also afraid of the consequences of McMurphy's actions on the rest of the patients after McMurphy has gone. "Listen Randle, some of us have b-been here a long time. And some of us will b-be here a long time after you " re gone.
A l-long time after the World Series is over," says Billy. However, Billy soon begins to gain confidence in himself and get the courage to do as he feels is necessary. As Cheswick is complaining about Ratched coming and yelling about the trash on the floor, " (gathering courage, throwing his peel on the floor) Hey you missed one," Billy tells Cheswick. He is no longer concerned with how Miss Ratched feels, he knows that he will no longer be controlled by her every wish, and he learned all of this thanks to McMurphy. After Billy sleeps with a friend of McMurphy's, Miss Ratched says, "Billy, oh Billy, I'm so ashamed," in attempts to break Billy down and ruin his pride. However, thanks to McMurphy's influence on him Billy defiantly replies, "I'm not." Billy was once just a timid young man, but now thanks to McMurphy is a better man.
A man of values who will no longer be pushed around by other people. He is a man who will stand up for what he believes in, rather than the timid little boy he was before. Of all the people in the hospital, McMurphy had the biggest influence on Chief Bromden. When McMurphy first arrived he was told that the Chief was both deaf and dumb and incapable of interacting with other human beings.
McMurphy didn't care, he treated Chief like anyone else, and eventually broke down the barrier which Bromden had been putting up for years. The first instance was when the vote for the World Series was going on amongst the patients. They had all of the votes for the majority that they needed, other than the vote of the Chief, therefore they were one short. After calling for a recount, the group still could not watch, and everyone thought the vote was over since the Chief was deaf and dumb.
However, just moments later after some encouragement from McMurphy the Chief raised his hand to give the majority. Even though the vote had since been closed, it was a major milestone for everyone on the ward, and Chief was punished for his actions. McMurphy gets the Chief to start talking again too. Chief also thinks that he is not "big enough" in more ways than one. Bromden says, "McMurphy... Make me big again."How can I be big if you aint? How can anybody?" Chief tells McMurphy.
In an instance later in the play, McMurphy is jumped by the associates in the ward, and Bromden does not hesitate to intervene "lifting a man high off the floor." The Chief had once felt trapped within himself but now had built up the inner strength to act out for his friend and fight for what he thought was the right thing. There are many other instances in the play where Bromden shows his drastic change in character, but the most stunning transformation takes place at the end of the play. For his violent actions McMurphy has earned himself a lobotomy and is now nothing but a waste of space. Chief Bromden knows that there is no way that McMurphy would have wanted to gone with life like this, saying " You think Mac would want this thing sitting' around here 20 or 30 years with his name stuck on it?" he takes a pillow and smothers McMurphy to death.
Just moments later he decides to take on the task which McMurphy had so wanted him to do. He reaches for the power unit saying "Mac said... Mac... (He takes a deep breath, tries again. There comes a cracking sound, a screech and a ripping as the unit pulls loose.
There is an explosion, a flash of light and smoke. The Chief moves to McMurphy, reaches down and gently closes his eyes. ) I'm big again, Mac." He turned and rushed out the window into the horizon. Some people are forced to conform to a condemning situation, but thanks to McMurphy these people did not.
He brought them all hope and a new light and sense of well being. He taught them how things were on the outside, in the "real world" and took them away from the boring lives they lived in the hospital even if it was only for a short amount of time. He gave Harding, Billy, and Chief Bromden the courage which they had always longed to have but could never exude on their own, and I certainly think society needs more people like him, more people to lead other and instill them with power. We as human beings long for leadership and someone to give us worth, and R. P. McMurphy was certainly the person to do so for these people.
He may not be the best contribution to the economy, but in regards to people in general, there is no denying the potential we could have if only there were more people like him, people to motivate, and give us pride. McMurphy certainly did this for all of the people he encountered in the hospital and made them better adjusted to live their lives to the fullest every day.