One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Film)

Masculinity and Femininity: Analysis of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Text and Movie 12th Grade

Throughout modern and historic literature alike, the battle of the sexes has waged on. From Greek dramas to modern stream-of-consciousness novels, the struggle among men and women has been commonplace. In this way, within his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey pits the contrasting characteristics of Nurse Ratched and Candy Starr to put forward a concept of duality. However, as it appears in the movie interpretation of the novel, such a theme is present, albeit much less so.

From the outset of the novel, Kesey develops a generalization of women as cold and manipulative, focusing on Nurse Ratched as the center of power. For instance, to depict the head nurse as distant and controlling, Kesey describes her as more mechanical than human. The nurse’s smile is said to twist and stretch “into an open snarl” as she “blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor” and barrels toward the black boys (5). Here, the nurse’s female characteristics like a “compact or lipstick or woman stuff” are hidden in favor for the “thousands of parts that she aims to use in her duties today” (4). The effect of such literal objectification through reverse personification serves to paint the nurse as a potent force whose feminine...

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