One Flew Over The Cuckoo\'s Nest- Ken Kesey\'s Characterization Of Women

Kesey’s characterization of women is by no means fair. He perceives one type to be the bossy domineering woman, and the other type to be submissive whores. He is subjective to the inmates being futile, perceiving us to think that their wives and especially Big “Powerful” Nurse took away their manliness. Kesey tries to imply that whores such as Candy Starr, contradict that, and offer them courage and pleasure. In this book, there are no regular women, just these two extremes.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest does not seem to intentionally degrade women. Although Kesey may not have, there is a shadow of doubt in how he illustrates it. The Nurse’s name itself symbolizes this. A Ratched is perceived to sound like a wretched conniving drill sergeant, with no feelings or personality. Although described as an attractive arousing lady, she is a power hungry monster, trying to hide her sexuality under her uniform. She drives to control the ward, even overpowering Dr. Spivey, finding his morphine weakness. She is opposed to male sexuality in its entirety, and thinks upon it as evil. Her only weakness is her own sexuality, and falls prey to it when McMurphy strips her clothes off, and she becomes powerless.
Another figure of female dominance is Billy Bibbit’s mother. She visualizes Billy, at 31 years old; still to be an adolescent probably because of his stuttering. She has controlled him all his life, and because of that, does not trust him as an adult. He is then committed to this asylum so his mom doesn’t have to take care of him, but is then treated the same way by Nurse Ratched. As he defies Big Nurse, by loosing his virginity and becoming a man, she finds his weakness. Disgracing him with the risk of telling his mom, he kills himself from the humiliation of not being a man.
Dale Harding is another victim fallen prey to supremacy. His wife has controlled him and he has become self indulged in an unmanly state. He is weak and feeble and unable to control it. Although appearing as one of the strongest patients beside McMurphy, he endures countless attacks about his wife from Ms. Ratched, during group therapy. This lowers his morale, but he follows McMurphy on his way to being cured. He soon demonstrates control, by waiting for his wife to sign him out, instead of abiding by McMurphy’s plan to escape.
Kesey’s portrayal of women in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is still conceived as being biased. Even though this kind of female dominance can happen in the real world, he does not bring up the issue of male dominance and how it affects women too. He only emphasizes on the point of view of the male being completely taken over by the female. This certainly persuades the reader that his characterization of women was not fair.

Category: Book Reports