By focusing on the aspects of uniformity and the nature of insanity in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and King of Hearts, the careful reader can understand the importance of different peoples perception of what insanity really means and how uniformity has more meaningful depth to it; this focus of uniformity and the nature of insanity is useful because it allows a profounder significance when reading similar stories. In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and King of Hearts, the concept of uniformity as a type of protection and how it shows individuality stand out in both stories. In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief is finally able to escape the insane asylum. When he does so, he catches a ride with a Mexican man heading north. Chief wants to get as far away as possible from the asylum. “…professional Indian wrestler the syndicate had tried to lock up in a nuthouse that he stopped real quick and gave me a leather jacket to cover my greens” (324). When chief says “greens”, he is referring to the green uniforms that the people in the asylum wear to demonstrate the idea that they are all the same, that nothing distinguishes them from one another.
This green uniform is a way to make sure that everyone is the identical and it is also considered to be a type of protection. Although, in this particular scene, the Mexican man gives Chief a jacket to “cover” this idea of uniform that the mental hospital imposed. When he puts the coat, that is the moment in which Chief finally becomes an individual. Chief has chosen to take off this layer of “protection” and become whomever he decides to be, not what the combine tells him to be. In King of Hearts, the characters are the exact opposite of one another when it comes to uniformity. Everyone from the soon to be blown up city fled while the insane people from the asylum wandered around and started to wear other people’s clothing. At the end of the movie though, they abruptly decide to go back to the asylum. Prior to doing so, they take off all the clothes that they previously put on baring their uniforms from the asylum. This particular scene from the movie shows that these lunatics prefer wearing a uniform, even though it hides their individuality. For them, it is a way to feel secure and more at ease. When they wear regular clothing, it shows that they are ready to be free and handle the world but this part of the movie proves otherwise.
These people are not ready to fit in with everyone else; they are not ready to be like everyone else. They feel as though when they wear their uniforms they are all the same, but there is some sort of hidden shield that they prefer, that protects them from the outside world. They care more about the fact that they are shielded rather than showing their uniqueness. Both stories demonstrate the notion of gaining a type of protection from uniformity and how it establishes one eccentricity. The controversy about who is really insane, the people of the asylum or the “normal” people in the outside world, is a reoccurring theme in King of Hearts and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the narrator explains to the readers what kind of person Big Nurse is. He starts mentioning that she is a “manipulator” and what he suggests manipulators do. “There are such people in our society. A manipulator can influence the other patients and disrupt them to such an extent that it may take months to get everything running smooth once more” (27).
Big nurse has the ability to influence others and make them think as twisted as she does. She has this fixation on controlling people, that being held into consideration, Chief mentions that manipulators have the power to “disrupt” others to a great extent. Big nurse is actually manipulating and competing with “crazy people”, it has gotten to that point. People who are insane cannot think correctly, Big nurse is conflicting and influencing these kind of people which shows how shallow she is and how far she is willing to go to prove that she is superior, it illustrates that she may actually be crazier than the patients. Notice how Chief says that “there are such people in our society”, the majority of our society is similar to Big nurse in a way. They want to control and compete with one another; it is how the human network works. A considerable amount of our population is insane, they are crazier than those in the asylum. In King of Hearts, the crazy characters convince the reader that the world they live in is crazier than they are. The people from the insane asylum have “taken over” the empty city.
These people are usually very obedient and respectful of their so-called King, but when he wants to leave and them all with him before the bomb explodes, that is when they start to rebel. Charles orders them to follow him but they all take turns at stating that the outside world is crazier than they are. “’Follow me! Follow me!’ ‘There are wild beasts!’ ‘Can’t you hear them? They’re bloodthirsty.’ ‘You must come with me.’ ‘There’s a wall between us and the world out there’ ‘Its too dangerous.’ ‘Come on, for the last time’ ‘Charles!’ ‘You have no idea how wicked they are out there!”’ The “wild beasts” that the lunatics are referring to is clearly mankind. There are some people on this planet that will do monstrous things. Others outside of the asylum call those that are in it crazy but in reality, they might very well be the insane ones. The crazy barber says that they are “bloodthirsty” which is logical in a sense; the world is a crazy and cruel place. This time period was centered in the middle of World War 2, where people constantly fought and killed each other mindlessly. People who were involved in this war were indeed these bloodthirsty beasts.
The duchess then adds on that citizens were “wicked” in the outside world, that people were brutal and heartless towards one another. To them, it was a known fact that those outside the asylum were just as insane as they were if not worse. The duke says that there is a “wall between [them] and the world” and that “its too dangerous” which is in fact accurate. There is a concealed wall between the insane and sane people of the world and it is a risky move to go beyond this wall because that could harm the true nature of insanity. Charles is used to the outside world and wants these people to come with him but they know what is waiting for them out there, they know the about madness that goes on. At one point they are convinced that they are not the crazy ones. The discussion on who is truly sane, the world or people in the asylum, is demonstrated in both stories. The aspects of uniformity and the nature of insanity in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and King of Hearts, clarify the many perceptions that people may have.