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In classic tragedy, catastrophe results from conflict involving the hero and opposing...

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goterc | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:25 PM via web

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In classic tragedy, catastrophe results from conflict involving the hero and opposing forces. The hero, a character of enviable strength and virtue, is nonetheless doomed because of a tragic flaw such as pride, or the inability to assess the strength of an opponent. Show how this novel fits into the classic definition of tragedy or show how this novel diverges from this concept.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 10, 2013 at 1:16 PM (Answer #1)

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In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the novel definitely fits the classic definition of a tragedy.  The hero is McMurphy who is doomed because of his pride in his own strength of defiance and underestimates how determined Nurse Ratched is to control him and thus the entire ward. McMurphy is the one who instigates the rebellion against the crazy rules of the ward, who plans the fishing expedition outside the walls, and who plans the catastrophe of a party after the fishing.  Nurse Ratched arranges for McMurphy's lobotomy which reduces him to a zombie leading the Chief to kill him before the Chief escapes.  Thus this novel fits the classic definition where the hero dies or is doomed, and the story ends with catastrophe as in McMurphy's death at the hands of his friend, Chief. 

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