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Cuckoos Nest

            Characterization of McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.
             Kesey's characterization of McMurphy and Nurse Ratched is the element that makes the plot come alive. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, the main characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, helped establish and embellish the plot and the other characters in the book. Kesey created these characters and used them as foils to bring about the characteristics of the other mental patients in the ward. Their relationship also enhances the tone for the reader and causes the realization that mankind can be extremely cruel to other human beings. .
             McMurphy is just the opposite of the Nurse. She concentrates on the patients' weaknesses and tries to subdue them by preying on their insecurities. She makes them believe that they are broken machines and the hospital is their "repair shop." McMurphy tries to make his fellow patients laugh and forget their problems. He concentrates on their strengths. The nurse is a symbol of the Combine and accepts all of its repressive rules. McMurphy has never lived inside the confines of the Combine, for he is his own man, freed from society's conformity. The Nurse is a big woman, totally organized and in control of herself and her emotions. .
             McMurphy stands for all that is natural and real. He is impulsive and emotional and does not plan things the way the Nurse does; but in his unplanned actions, he tries to get the patients to be themselves and to be self-reliant instead of depending on others. He truly wants the others to benefit from his efforts, although he had initially come to the hospital with the intention of financial gain. McMurphy's sense of individuality and self- assurance draws the patients to him, and they start following his lead in opposing the Big Nurse. He then tries to become a model patient for awhile. When McMurphy realizes that these patients, who have voluntarily admitted themselves, rely on him for strength and courage, he takes up the fight once again.

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