Over the past years, two of the most serious problems that society faces are oppression and repression. Through the years, it is only the faces of the oppressors that change but the instances of oppression and repression seem to repeat themselves. This can be credited to the fact that the instruments of a corrupt system are the authorities themselves.
The number of people who dare to stand against this set-up has been increasing. They have let their voices be heard through demonstrations, music and even literary works.
In this paper, I will show how a seemingly entertaining novel awakens the social consciousness of the readers by comparing our society to insane people inside an asylum. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel that mirrors social realities.
The plot generally revolves on the habits and workings of Randle Mc Murphy who is a rebellious man from a workfarm prison before entering the all-male asylum. The protagonist does not protest to this idea of being transferred to an asylum because of the convenience of his new sentence.
At first, he is a mere entertainer to the other patients and realizes after quite some time that his role in the asylum is actually more than just lightening up the mood of his colleagues. As the story progresses, he notices the ill doings of the authorities, brings social awareness to the other patients and becomes a catalyst of change. His character represents freedom, perseverance and sexuality. The qualities that he possesses are all contradictions and unexpected in an oppressed environment that is controlled by Nurse Ratched.
Propagating fear in a society is one strategy that manipulators used in order to prevent people from fighting for their repressed rights. Those who dare stand up against the system are immediately tagged as rebels and condemned. This sets fear that discourages the others who plan to question the system. The novel shows that people who rebel against the system are being silenced through threats like Mc Murphy who is threatened by Nurse Ratched that he will be sent to undergo electroshcock treatments as long as she likes if he does not stop his rebellion. Bromden speaks to McMurphy the day before his electroshock treatment saying that the oppressed do not have “any place ready-made where they’ll fit” and the oppressors resemble a machine which has no human feelings. (Kessey 321).The oppressed are being ignored and disposed of. At first, their words are being disposed of, then, through time the “machinery” ignores their entire being.
The sacrifices of Mc Murphy are the same with Christ’s. Mc Murphy and Christ are both revolutionaries who do sacrifices in order to change the ill system for the good of humanity. In fact, his previous actions are somewhat similar with Christ’s as mentioned in the Bible. Like Christ, he experiences baptism upon entering the asylum. He too gradually assembles his disciples as they plan together their upsurge against Ratched. In the end, his noble cause to liberate his co-patients leads him to sacrifice his health, freedom, sanity and his whole life.
Readers can see in this novel that the patients in the asylum are being manipulated to discourage unity among them. Like what Ratched does in the novel, we are forced to attack each other to lose our senses. In one instance after their first Group Meeting, Mc Murphy tells the other patients that they are like “a bunch of chickens at a pecking party” because they are tearing into Harding in adherence to Doctor’s Spivey’s theory of the Therapeutic Community. The doctor requires the patients to open their old sins to the rest of the patients. After the sharing, everyone will attack him with such blind anger. The tactic such as divide and conquer is employed by Ratched and the other authorities so that they will be so preoccupied attacking each other instead of realizing the manipulators’ true nature. Because their ranks are divided and they are too blinded by their own shame, the authorities find it easy to control them.
Authorities in our society try to diverge the people’s attention by espousing divisiveness among the people to keep them too busy pitting on each other so that they will not hit the real issue. For the rest to revolutionize the whole system, they will need a leader who will gather and consolidate the previously divided ranks. It is only through collective efforts that people can win against a corrupt system. As interconnected human beings who face a great issue, we have duties to protect one another from the manipulators. Our society needs an instigator like Mc Murphy who first did the insubordination and soon after the others joined him to rebel against the corrupt system.
It is certainly challenging to eradicate oppression and repression in the society but it is up to the people if they will succumb to the sufferings of humanity. One might lose hope along the fight due to external forces. The novel mentions that Mc Murphy laughs so hard that rocks everyone and everything else “because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. (Kessey 267)” In an oppressive world, people cannot just actually let the external pressures kill the hope that they have for it can make them “plumb crazy.” Fear and sorrow will always be present in the struggle against oppression. However, people must identify their strengths to overcome these weaknesses in order to succeed in the struggle.