Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, this is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, life-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient, who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome power of The Combine.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is a powerful indictment of society's messed up perception and treatment of the mentally ill. The most striking aspect of the novel is despite Nurse Ratched rendering the patients in the ward powerless as she forces them to accept their rank as weak and inferior members of society, Mc Murphy is able to revolutionize their way of thinking. He transforms them from spineless individuals lacking conviction and self confidence into fearless challengers of hierarchy and conformity. In addition to assessing the psychological effects of social rejection and questioning the validity of society's characterization of mentally ill individuals, the book contains characters and underlying themes which lend it a broader political and cultural relevance. Kesey proves that regardless of how thoroughly establishments seek to control and impose conformity upon the populace, the indomitable human will cannot be extinguished
An epic struggle of good against evil, human against machine, willpower against absolute power, pits the archetypal American hero - cowboy, fighter, hustler, gambler - against the cold efficient machinery of power. In the end, you get to decide who won.
This is a very special book to me. Not only is it well written, poignent, and great fun to read, it had a profound impact on my life, when I read it during my puberty.
It is about McMurphy, who is a lusty, brawling, fun-loving man sentenced to prison, who acts crazy so he can get sent to a mental hospital (thinking it will be an easier "time" to serve).
He ends up fighting the system, which is designed to keep people feeling small so they will stay orderly, and fighting for the rights of his fellow patients, as well. Of course, the mental hospital is wonderfully symbolic of society at large, and McMurphy's fight is doomed from the start.
An amazing novel! If you haven't read this before, it's worth the read. The characters are well thought out and very believable. There were moments when I was wondering if the details in the story were actually true. Because it is written so well it is fast paced and easy to read. Love the story line and the end. Too perfect. This book is a real masterpiece.
Life in an asylum through the eyes of a patient paints an interesting picture. When the monotony of the ward's daily life is interrupted by a boisterous new patient, McMurphy, the authoritative Big Nurse knows that her way of running the hospital is threatened. In the all-out psychological battle that ensues, the other patients (our narrator included) are changed forever.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
"In the early 1960s, fresh out of Stanford's creative writing program, Ken Kesey supported himself by working as an attendant at a psychiatric hospital. It was there that he wrote what became his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which Viking released on February 1, 1962. This hardcover edition, which includes new introductions and more than twenty-five line drawings that Kesey made while composing the novel, commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the publication of this American classic." Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, this is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome power of the Combine. Hailed upon its publication as "a glittering parable of good and evil" (The New York Times Book Review) and "a roar of protest against middlebrow society's Rules and the invisible Rulers who enforce them" (Time), this powerful book is as bracing and insightful today as it was in the 1960s.
Corinne D. reviewed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is about a crazy, sexual beast of an Irish guy coming into a mental ward. This ward is controlled by the ever mechanical and freaky Miss Ratched who controls the lives of all the patients by instilling guilt, shame, and other nasty things. She has the power to do almost anything, as everyone is under her control. She also has some handy tools to help her keep the guys calm, but this Irish guy tries to get the best of her and bring her down! It's a great book, and it's very fulfilling. You can feel yourself change by the time you read the entire story! It's a must read.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a novel following the life of a prisoner McMurphy who got himself moved from a working prison to a mental hospital in the 1960's. It follows the up's and downs of his journey and growing relationships with other patients in the mental ward run by the ultimate villain Nurse Ratchet or 'The Big Nurse' who enjoys using her power in her role as caregiver to employ other sadistic caregivers and to inflict pain and mental, and physical anguish on the patients who are left in her care. I decided to read this book because I have loved the movie since my early teens, and although the characters were colorful, and the plot was one that you did not want to put down, I did find the writing style confusing and somewhat monotonous throughout the second half and towards the end of the book. I do think however if you are interested into a look into what psychological treatment might have been like for patients during this point in history (1960's) this might be a good reference to read, or I'd recommend the movie. As far as the novel itself its not one of my favorites but it was alright. For me as someone with multiple psychology degrees hearing how the author chose to have the patients describe themselves, and their disorders was very interesting, and hearing how their main caregiver used therapy to manipulate them for her own means to really in a way torture then psychologically was disturbing to me and just makes me want to help people in a positive way even more.
This book is not for those with faint hearts. I guess I'm one of those. I read this book years and years ago but had forgotten until I began to read it again and it all came rolling back. Also saw the movie and while I do not view myself as that sensitive I found this read just as disturbing as I did at that time. The movie was also disturbing but the mentally ill and those others wanted to lock away for whatever reason were treated in this manner. Some lost not only their minds while others lost their lives. It's sad that we once treated the mentally ill so.
i had to read this when i was in training in nursing school during my psych training.then we had to go see the off-off broadway play of it,way before the movie came out.
this is a wonderful read. the author presents his charachters well.
and believ me this is the way it was over 30 years ago when i was in school.
Kesey could be laying the groundwork for Tom Robbins. Of you dont like Jack Nicholson, this is not a book for you! After reading the dialogue written for McMurphy (the central character) he is all I could picture. It is almost as if the book were written with Nicholson in mind. I also found it amazing that the movie version is remarkably true to the book. What happened, Hollywood?
Anyway, the central scene is the state mental institution, hence the politically incorrect title. The events are recounted by Chief Broom, a half-breed Indian (pardon, a Native American) who is supposed to be a deaf, mute. The principal action is the escalating struggle between the boisterous, rebellious McMurphya new admissionand Nurse Wretched (oops! Ratched)the head ward nurse (or, Big Nurse as the narrator calls her). The events are inane, McMurphy is comical, Ratched is stoical, but this is no burlesque as you will see as the plot thickens and the supporting cast interacts.
I enjoy reading books set in asylums, so this novel tickled me pink; it did not disappoint. I'd seen the movie years ago and remembered enjoying it and it appears the screenplay followed the novel well. McMurphy initially irritated me with his brash and loud ways, disrupting the order and tranquility of the psychiatric ward; however, around halfway through the book I began to picture him as Sawyer from "Lost" and he suddenly became incredibly appealing. He struck me as charming and protective, with just a touch of grit. I truly think he had the best interests of his friends in mind when making his stand against Nurse Ratched. I don't think, as she suggested, he was trying to milk them for money (unlike her milking them for their souls).
I had two main problems with the novel: dialect and Nurse Ratched. Dialect, for me, is always distracting, never conducive to plot flow, and occasionally sounds forced, even demeaning to (usually) Southerners. (How McMurphy ended up in Oregon was never explained). Nurse Ratched was undoubtedly a flat character; Kesey likely purposely wrote her this way to drive home his metaphor. She ran the ward as Satan, carrying her wicker basket full of evil, doled out to whomever she saw fit to saddle with it at the moment. I wished Kesey would have shown a softer side to her, a kind moment of helping a patient, a friendly chat with a fellow nurse, a laugh from her mouth. Maybe this is how the narrator (Chief) saw her, though. It was all black-and-white and machinery to him.
Two of the most powerful scenes in the novel were when McMurphy tries to lift the piece of machinery and fails and says, "At least I tried;" also, the final one, juxtaposing the light having come out of McMurphy's eyes as the world finally smothered him (literally and figuratively) with the emergence of the Chief becoming unsmothered, larger than life, and out to rebel against conformity. I nearly cried during the last scene. Great writing
In this classic novel of the 1960's, Ken Kesey's hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Big Nurse. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Big Nurse, backed by the full power of authority...McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Big Nurse uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story's shocking climax.