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What are some short stories that can be compared to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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lagaus | Student | eNoter

Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:10 AM via web

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What are some short stories that can be compared to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 21, 2012 at 6:41 AM (Answer #1)

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The most obvious short story that springs to mind is "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, that likewise deals with the key themes of madness and suggests, just as this novel does, that how we treat insanity and those who are insane is linked to the success or failure of the treatment. Just as McMurphy challenges the authorities in the form of Nurse Ratched, so the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" challenges her husband, who is in authority over her, telling her what is best for her, although this challenge is not open. Note the way that Mc Murphy deliberately suggests that the men with him are not actually mad:

Jesus, I mean you guys do nothing but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and then you haven’t got the guts just to walk out? What do you think you are for Christ sake, crazy or something? Well, you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walking around on the streets!

McMurphy profoundly challenges the dichotomy between sane and insane and asks the larger question of who it is that actually puts those people into these two categories and who draws up the characteristics of these two supposedly opposite states. In the same way, the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" challenges the diagnosis that her husband and her brother--both key patriarchal figures--have made of her health:

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

Both McMurphy and the narrator here however have to eventually bow to the greater authority of those in charge of them, with tragic consequences.

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