One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Sanity and Insanity in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest and The Yellow Wallpaper 12th Grade

The question of how to determine what is sane and what is insane is explored in both Kesey’s Novel ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1962) and Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (1896). The terms “sanity” and “insanity” are often attached to a great amount of ambiguity; one definition states that sanity is “the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner”. It can be argued that one of the key themes of both texts is exploring the limitations of and challenging such a strict definition; the readers are led to question who has the authority to decide what constitutes as “madness” and what does not. At a glance, it appears obvious who is “sane” and who is “insane” in both texts, while Perkins Gilman’s novella may appear to focus on the deteriorating mental state of its protagonist and Kesey’s novel seemingly following the journey towards freedom from an institutionalised madness. However, when examining both texts further, this differentiation becomes much more indistinguishable.

The representation of insanity in Kesey’s novel is communicated to the readers solely through the eyes of the “crazy” Chief Bromden, revealing his past in a narrative of hallucinations and anachronism. Kesey uses the symbolism of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4491 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in