One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Literary Element Essay
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The novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a good representation of a story that humans are taught to accept and hope for victory of a protagonist, whoever that protagonist may be. Patrick McMurphy was the unlikely hero in a non-hero environment. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel with a common structure that is enhanced and elevated through the use of Biblical allusions. This novel is also an insane allegory of the Christ story; As the Chris figure in this story, McMurphy risks his life in order to save others. As in the Bible with Jesus, many do not understand McMurphy and his ways of speaking and acting when he first arrives on the ward. “Whats your story, Big Chief? You look like a Sitting Bull on a sit-down strike.” Although his actions eventually bring McMurphy to a modern-day crucifixion, he was definitely not somebody who acted like Jesus. “So you see my friend, it is somewhat as you stated: man has but one truly effective weapon against the juggernaut of modern matriarchy, but it certainly is not laughter.
One weapon, and with every passing year in this hip, motivationally researched society, more and more people are discovering how to render that weapon useless and conquer those who have hitherto been conquerors”. McMurphy seems to be more of a bully than a hero. Yet, he begins to change and evolve throughout the story. In the power struggle during the allegory, Nurse Ratched the Romans, or those who persecuted Christ and wanted to destroy his power over the people. As Christ and Pilate struggle, McMurphy and Nurse Ratched struggle for control as well.
“The nurse was biding her time till another idea came to her that would put her on top again.” One cannot say that McMurphy is a very “kind” person; although in fear, he manipulates the patients for his own well-being. However, he does take actions that deliver them from the “combine” and tries to liberate them. “While McMurphy laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the cabin top, spreading his laugh out across the water—laughing at the girl, the guys, at George, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the captain back at the pier and the bicycle rider and the service-station guys and the five thousand houses and the Big Nurse and all of it. Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”
Jesus could have saved himself, but he knew he had a destiny to fulfill for mankind. Likewise, McMurphy could have left the hospital during the party and gained his freedom through the unlocked window. Both Jesus and McMurphy know they have to sacrifice themselves to save others. “They was giving me ten thousand watts a day, you know, and I’m hot to trot! The next woman takes me on’s gonna light up like a pinball machine and pay off in silver dollars!”. When McMurphy realizes that Billy has commited suicide, he attacks Ratched. “He glances around to see how this strikes her and sees she still hasn’t moved or given any sign. But the rest of the staff sits there glaring at him like he’s said some awful vulgar thing. He sees how he’s stepped way out of bounds and tries to bring it off as a joke by giggling and adding, “You know, like ‘He Who Marches Out Of Step Hears Another Drum’ “-but it’s too late”. This act of caring more for a friend than he does for himself is a convincing illustration that reveals Patrick McMurphy as a Christ figure who cares for others more than for himself.
Patrick McMurphy sounds like somebody who is the epitome of a sinner. He is a drinker, a smoker, and does many things that the Bible would call a “sin”. The assumption that he is parallel to Jesus could be seen as an arrogant statement. However, he does “save” the patients and bring them back to life in this way. McMurphy can be seen as a very un-christianlike Christ-figure. The allusion may be insane, but then maybe the world is.