Discuss how the issue of power in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest can be introduced in a paper.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that any introduction to the discussion of power has to immediately identify the structure of authority in Kesey's work.  I am not sure you get very far in its analysis if you are not immediately discussing how Nurse Ratched demonstrates and uses her power to silence the patients and how McMurphy and Bromden represent the forces of resistance that are seeking to transform this relationship into what should be as opposed to what is.  I think that being able to identity Nurse Ratched's element of control and the means of enforcement through the orderlies constitute the basic relationship of authority and its people in the novel.  Bromden understands that this is a metaphor for the larger society, in that those who are deemed as "undesirable" are not integrated, but rather placed on the outside and silenced.  The democratic notion of including voice is replaced by an authoritarian vision that has no problem suppressing them.  This is present in the institution in that power is used to silence and ensure cooperation.  In discussing the issue of power in the novel, I think that a strong introduction would bring out the idea of how the individual must struggle against a political or social force that is not keen on integration as much as forced cooperation.  Bringing this dynamic out in the earliest possible moment in any analysis can help establish the dynamic of power and the setting in which Bromden and McMurphy find themselves.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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