Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next and George Book Report

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¶ … Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next and George Orwell's 1984 - Book Comparison

This paper presents a detailed comparison of two books with different plots. The writer explores One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next and George Orwell's 1984 and explains the similarities in the community and mindset that they share. There were two sources used to complete This paper.

Writers of literature often use their works to convey their ideas about society, whether it is the past, the present or the future. They use their words to portray communities and mindsets that readers can relate to, if not from personal experience, from imagination and observation of others. In the course of writing stories authors often have ideas and themes float to the surface that were not originally intended. Two classic works of literature, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and George Orwell's 1984 share a common theme with regards to the type of society they set up. While one is in a mental institution and the other is an entire bleak society each of the characters, groups and communities share many common bonds and resemble each other.

Cuckoo's Nest

Before one can begin to understand the similar mindset of the characters and communities in each book it is important to know what the books are about. In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest the reader is taken on a journey through the life of mental ward patients in that era (Kesey, 1963).

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The book has several main characters but Chief Bromden and Randle McMurphy are the key elements from which the story line springs.

Bromden is the narrator of the story and has been a patient at the mental institution for more than a decade by the time McMurphy arrives (Kesey, 1963).

Bromden has hallucinations and suffers from extreme paranoia which becomes evident from the first pages of the book.

Bromden has an idea in his mind that the world is controlled by the "Combine" which is a huge group that controls society. His belief is that the Combine forces people into conformity (Kesey, 1963).

Book Report on Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next and George Assignment

Shaving before breakfast is the worst time. When you got something under your belt you are stronger and more wide awake and the bastards that work for the Combine aren't so apt to slip one of their machines in on you in place of an electric shaver (Kesey 12)." Because he believes that the Combine wants his mind as well he acts deaf and dumb and tries to become invisible, however, at six foot seven inches tall that is not possible.

The hospital patients are divided into Chronic and Acute and are overseen by a cold, calculating Nurse Ratched. She runs many of the group meetings and in those meetings prods patients to attack each other verbally and hit them where it hurts the most. If the patients become upset or unruly because of the attacks she sends them for electroshock treatment (Kesey, 1963).

Randle McMurphy arrives because he was transferred from a work farm and from the beginning Bromden senses that McMurphy is different from the others. He is cocky, he walks with a swaggering confidence the other patients either never had or lost it long ago.

When he firstr arrives on the ward McMurphy tells patients as a self-introduction that he gambles, is hooked on women and loves to play cards (Kesey, 1963).

He butts heads with Nurse Ratched from day one, calling her a ball cutter. When the other patients try to convince McMurphy that he can get Rached to lose her cool in seven days or less the other patients begin to come alive. They have something to get excited about each day and they are entertained and impressed with McMurphy's willingness to stand up to what they consider to be the all time authority on life.

The story becomes even more interesting as McMurphy's defiance of Ratched entices the other patients to begin to follow his lead including refusing to do chores and sitting in front of a turned off television to protest not being allowed to watch the World Series. McMurphy wins the bet when Ratched screams at them all, however, he soon discovers that because he was committed against his will the staff has complete control over his release. He begins to obey Ratched in the effort to win her approval for him to leave and it is so distressing to the other patients that one of them dies in a drowning incident that appears to be a suicide (Kesey, 1963).

McMurphy realizes he has set himself up as the leader of the patients. He asks for permission to take some of the patients fishing and while they are free he teaches them how to handle the outside world. They feel empowered and return to the hospital renewed with self-confidence (Kesey, 1963).

McMurphy later has a fight with one of the staff members and he and the Chief have to go get electroshock as punishment, McMuprhy for fighting and Bromden for helping him.

McMurphy comes back to the ward as if it didn't even phase him and that makes the patients worship him even more.

McMurphy has now pushed it so much that he is being encouraged to escape before Ratched destroys his mind but he refuses to leave until Billy and Candy have their sex date. Once it happens McMurphy is too drunk and stoned to leave and goes to sleep.

When Billy commits suicide because Ratched threatened to tell his mom about the sex McMurphy attacks her and she responds by having him get a lobotomy which destroys his thinking ability (Kesey, 1963).

Bromden kills McMurphy in an act of mercy and is so empowered by what McMurphy has taught him that he escapes to a free life (Kesey, 1963).

Compared With 1984

In 1984 the society is supposedly free, but is actually as locked up and spied on as the mental patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Winston Smith the main character lives in Oceania and is a low ranking member of the Party in London. The Party watches him every minute of his life through television screens, and he knows it. He is watched at home, work and when he goes out. He is constantly scrutinized by the Party to make sure he is acting in the manner that the Party expects him to act.

Wherever he is he sees the face of the Party leader known only to him as Big Brother. The Party controls society completely including their speech, their language their memories of history and events that happened in the past as well as what they currently think and do.

One does not have to read far before one can begin to see the similarity between this story, and the community in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In each story there is a group of people. In Cuckoo's nest it is patients in a mental hospital while in 1984 it is society itself. Each of them feels controlled. In Cuckoo's Nest, the patients believe that Nurse Ratched is the overseer of all things and has complete control over their thoughts, actions and deeds. In 1984 there is a similar oppression but it is caused by the television monitors and Big Brother who is the leader of the Party.

If one examines the fact that the Party forces society to speak a language called Newspeak (Orwell, 1977)one can easily compare that to Nurse Ratched and her insistence that the group therapy patients speak out against each others faults.

With Newspeak individuals are forbidden to use any words that are against the Party. In Cuckoo's nest the patients are forbidden to use any words that can be construed as defiance of the system or insubordination of nurse Ratched or other staff members.

It is interesting to note that in 1984 thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal, which is very similar to what happens if the patients in the hospital in Cuckoo's Nest decide to think anything but what they are told to think.

It was the Police Patrol snooping into people's windows. It didn't matter thought, only the Thought Police mattered (Orwell 3)."

In 1984 thought crimes are considered the worst crimes at all (Orwell, 1977). This is very similar to what happens to the patients in Cuckoo's Nest that believe or think things that staff has not given them permission to think or believe.

Both instances illustrate a need by others to control the mind. In reality, it should not matter what people want to think or believe as long as those thoughts do not threaten or harm others.

However in both books the people who want to control decide if people are allowed to have free thought they will lose their control therefore they ban or outlaw its existence. They provide such harsh punishments for it happening that it scares the people into submission.In the case of Cuckoo's Nest the punishment is electroshock and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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