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Isn’t Everyone Just a Little Bit Crazy? Essay Sample

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Isn’t Everyone Just a Little Bit Crazy? Essay Sample

In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, Randal McMurphy is convicted of a crime. He is sentenced to a prison labor farm to work off his crimes. In an act of desperation, he pleads insanity and sees the psychiatric ward as a pleasant way to serve the rest of his sentence. It is in the psych ward that the main story takes place. This can be seen as a small-scale version of society. The conversations that occur and the different relationships that form show how the overall goal for society is to better itself and eliminate anything that poses a threat; which is clearly shown throughout the book.

During the book, we see the connection that McMurphy has with Nurse Ratched. This relationship is very similar to the way some people act towards society. They refuse to contort to its narrow rules. They believe that once someone “joins society” all of the individuality is squeezed out, making them a mindless drone that just follows the directions of someone else. This is the same way the main character, McMurphy, views the leader of the psychiatric ward, Nurse Ratched. To him, she stands for tyranny, order, efficiency, and repression. It’s as if the psychiatric ward was a machine, and she is there to “fix” any part that’s broken. If anybody refuses to submit to her will, then they are subjected to abusive treatments. Some of them include electro-shock therapy, and range all the way to brain surgery (lobotomies)! Despite not knowing the power she wielded (until it is later pointed out to him), McMurphy constantly stands up to Nurse Ratched.
McMurphy’s goal was to show the men in the ward what they had lost and helped them to recover it. To do this, he steals a bus and takes the other patients on a fishing trip. During this trip, the men rediscover their own power while in a natural environment. Once they return, Nurse Ratched has McMurphy go through electro-shock therapy (this shows that society, represented by Nurse Ratched, is trying to control the actions of people). Once finished, McMurphy acts as though it had to effect on him, and this inspires the other men to be more rebellious in their actions.

Another way he tried to give “life” back to the other patients was by throwing a party before he tried to escape, despite it being against what “The Man” wants. Once the nurses leave, McMurphy sneaks booze, hookers, and marijuana into the psychiatric ward. He bribes off the guard and wakes up the other patients to enjoy a night of fun and debauchery. After a while, it is time for McMurphy to sneak out and hit the road. Instead of doing this, he stays so that another patient, Billy, can have his first sexual experience. Because he did not leave when planned, he fell asleep while still in the psych ward. In the morning, Nurse Ratched sees the disorder of the building and becomes furious. She finds Billy and threatens to tell his mother what he has done. Having been seen as a “mama’s boy”, Billy begged and pleaded to keep his night a secret. Ignoring his whims, Nurse Ratched has Billy wait in her office so she can dial his mother. After she finishes yelling at the other patients, she arrives in her office to see Billy dead on the floor, his throat cut with a piece of broken glass by his own hand. Many people believe the author put this part in the story to show that when society puts pressure on the wrong places, it can cause people to do very drastic things. The constant battle for individualism and the pressure to contort to what society wants are in constant combat. McMurphy soon realizes this, but it is too late. Because he is the one that started the party, he is later scheduled for a lobotomy to pacify him and becomes mentally dull. Nurse Ratched sees this as neutralizing a potential threat to the well-oiled machine of society.

Despite losing in the end, McMurphy tried his absolute hardest to prove that he was different from the regular patients, and even tried to get them to see their own individuality. He refused to obey what “The Man” wanted, and was determined to live his own life. Even though it would eventually kill him, McMurphy always sought after whatever pleased him, and would stop at nothing to get it.

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