One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Review

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 1229 Pages: 5
  • Published: 05 September 2021
  • Copied: 158

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about a Native American man, Chief Bromden, who goes from being invisible to being known because of one man coming into the psychiatric ward. The story takes place in the late 1950s in Oregon. The hero McMurphy is being asked to give up his sanity so they can change him in the ways they feel are acceptable. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest shows through Chief Bromden that society forces us to conform in ways that are deemed acceptable and there’s usually a high price to pay for it. Chief’s price is his sanity. Nurse Ratched acts as the matriarch in the ward and represents society's pressure. She tries to make the whole world do things her way. Chief plays the dumb and deaf card to be left alone because he does not want to be bothered by society and its rules. McMurphy’s challenging Nurse Ratched’s powers lead others to follow suit because of the programming in their head. Chief Bromden’s full potential in the ward would have never been fully realized without the outside help of McMurphy.

Conformity is the change of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to fit in or because of pressure from others. There are two types of conformity; obedience and compliance. Obedience is a change in behavior in response to a command. When a person lacks the knowledge to make decisions on their own they look to the group to guide them. Compliance is a change in behavior in response to being asked to do something in hope that the reaction will then gain something for the person doing the action. We see compliance happen when someone agrees with the group in public but in private they disagree. This tends to happen because the person does not want to be rejected by the group. Often, when people are conforming they fall into groupthink which is agreeing with the group is more important than the actual answer. People conform to fulfill other people's desires and to gain acceptance. 

Nurse Ratched expects all the patients to conform and obey her rules without question. They are conforming to the limits she has set in the ward. Mcmurphy represents the individuality and self-expression that goes against conformity so Nurse Ratched is constantly making attempts to make him conform. Nurse Ratched is against individuality and believes the patients should conform that she turns the patients into robots. She performs lobotomies leaving them in a vegetative state most of the time which strips them of their individuality. McMurphy's action goes against Nurse Ratched's want for conformity with his self-defining behavior leaving Chief Bromden confused on whether or not he should conform and comply with Nurse Ratched's wishes or if he should rebel. Nurse Ratched can not allow for this to happen because then she loses the power she held over the patients. Overall, conformity in this movie is represented as the combine which depicts society as a large force that oppresses people. Nurse Ratched is one of the authoritative figures in the combine who ensures that people do conform and bend to society's rules. Nurse Ratched tried to make the patients all believe that they are all the same so they do not create individualistic ideas and remain in the combine.

Conformity is portrayed accurately in terms of the research findings in social psychology. Non-conformity in this movie is very dangerous because it can lead to patients being in a vegetative state. The patients do not want to end up like this so they fall in line and abide by the rules in place. Those who fell out of line were snitched on by other patients so that the person who snitched could gain something in exchange. That could be something as little as extra food or extra pillows because they know conforming gains them these little rewards. If you do not conform they will abuse you by giving you drugs, knocking you out, or taking you away. The drugs would make you extremely tired that you would not want to do anything else giving you no other option but to conform. When McMurphy shows up in the hospital he does not conform and begins to question authority which is a huge red flag for Nurse Ratched. For the Nurse to dominate over her patients and ensure conformity she's repressed her sexuality and also strips the men of their masculinity by screaming at them. This gives her the power she needs to further control the patients.

Obedience is the social influence that involves you completing a task given by an authority figure. It is different from compliance and conformity because compliance asks you to change your behavior when someone asks you to do something while for conformity you change your behavior to fit in with the group. To obey, you are responding to direct order. When people obey and do things out of their norm they justify their behavior by holding the authoritative figure responsible. Obedience happens because people prefer to be rewarded than reprimanded. It is also learned that the closer you are to this authoritative figure the more likely you are going to obey.

Obedience is presented in the movie in the way the characters respond to the head authority figure, Nurse Ratched. All of the orderlies obey Nurse Ratched's orders willingly with no questions asked. If she asks them to bring them to get lobotomies the orderlies quickly grab the patient and make their way. The orderlies continue to shock McMurphy with the orders given to them by the head nurse. She told them how far they should go when shocking him. The patients who also obey her for example when she asks them if they want to watch the World Series, they all answer no because they do not want her to be mad at them. They do not want to end up in a vegetative state like McMurphy who Nurse Ratched used as an example of what would happen if they did not conform and questioned her authority.

Obedience is portrayed accurately in terms of the research findings in social psychology. The three black boys in the movie obey Nurse Ratched's every command. They were specifically chosen because Nurse Ratched believed they had every reason to obey her because she knew all she had to do was allow them to act out their rage. Every patient is an example of obedience because they all respond to only the authoritative figures. When one of them gets out of line and refuses to obey, McMurphy, they see the consequences that would happen so they follow. The three black boys in exchange for their obedience are allowed every once in a while to act out as their reward. They see that with obedience there is also reward and not just consequences which makes them want to obey.  

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an accurate depiction of conformity and obedience at play. It shows through the lens of Chief Bromden that society forces us to conform in ways they find acceptable and there's usually a price for it if you do not conform. The spectrum between Nurse Ratched, conformity and obedience, and McMurphy, individualism, shows us that people are uncertain on when to rebel and when to conform. In society though, conformity always wins because people are too afraid to speak up in fear that there would be negative consequences. The goal one should try to achieve in society is to be one with everyone else and when you try to step out of that someone will always be there to put you back in your place. Nurse Ratched is an example of how society turns us into full-functioning robots in the world instead of different individuals. This is to show that at the hand of authority and society we will bend to make the norms work for us even if we don't agree with them to avoid being ostracized.


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