One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Describe the nurse.

Describe the nurse

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

Nurse Ratched (also known as Big Nurse) is stern, controlling, and determined to quash all resistance to her authority. Nurse Ratched believes in order above all, institutionalizing a systematized reduction of humans to robotic function, with an obliteration of all individual characteristics that might ultimately lead to rebellion. She is, in many ways, a metaphor for all forms of repression, particularly sexual repression. She seems to be ashamed of her own sexuality, consistently buttoned up in her white nurse's outfit, but she cannot hide her large breasts, her one incongruous physical trait. As a metaphor, then, it is only appropriate that her final comeuppance involves McMurphy (symbolizing freedom) tearing open her uniform and unleashing her breasts and body. As punishment, Ratched has McMurphy lobotomized. In that battle, authoritarianism, repression, and conservative sexuality win, but readers are led to fight against what Ratched represents.