Dictatorship As A Leader With All The Power

           Dictatorship, is defined as a leader who possesses all the power of a certain state or government. Essentially, forms of dictatorship can be seen in many situations where one person decides to make all the rules and control the people in a certain situation. The concept of dictatorship can be seen in the real world as well as in works of literature. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s by Ken Kesey, the characters deal with dictatorship because of the antagonist of the novel. Although, Nurse Ratched, the head of the psychiatric ward, may seem as an emotional person throughout the novel she is in fact a diabolical character who possesses dictatorship-like qualities.

The way that Nurse Ratched is able to control the patients and ones around her, stipulates her form of dictatorship. At the hospital, there are these black boys who help Nurse Ratched with many different tasks. However, they are willingly forced by Ratched to work for her, “She never gives orders out loud or leaves written instructions that might be found out by a visiting wife or schoolteacher. Doesn’t need to anymore. They are in contact on a high-voltage wavelength of hate, and the black boys are out there performing her bidding before she even thinks” (Kesey 31). Nurse Ratched treats the patients like slaves as if she has individuals to work for her in many harsh and dangerous tasks. As a matter of fact, it is so cruel that they just start working without even her having to give any orders. Moreover, Nurse Ratched treats the patients as if they are not even people because they feel powerless, “We are victims of a matriarchy here, my friend, and the doctor is just as helpless against it as we are” (Kesey 63). Nurse Ratched has shaped a matriarchy where she has all the responsibility and decides to have no one beside her to help her run the hospital. Since she is the only lady in the clinic, she can run the medical clinic in whatever way she satisfies. Actually, it is a type of fascism in light of the fact that the patients and the other doctors feel like they are vulnerable against her. The patients acknowledge they cannot take care of business and as appeared before they are being dealt with like slaves. Nurse Ratched is heartless in view of her tyrannical like activities and the manner by which she regards her patients as if they are “ape like.” In fact, “they are regarding the patients as objects instead of human objects” since they are not even receiving any medical treatment from the hospital (Gilead 338). The fact that the patients go to a hospital just to become more tortured instead of healed demonstrates how Nurse Ratched has no sympathy for the ones around her. Similar, to dictators in the past, she has no regard for human life.

Along with her controlling mindset, Nurse Ratched is diabolical because of the way she manipulates her patients. She has constructed her hospital ina specific way in order for her to easily rule everyone. For example Nurse Ratched has chosen who her staff should be; “Year by year she accumulates her ideal staff: doctors, all ages and types, come and rise up in front of her with ideas of their own about the way a ward should be run, some with backbone enough to stand behind their ideas, and she fixes these doctors with dry-ice eyes day in, day out, until they retreat with unnatural chills.” (Kesey 29). The staff that is being selected decide to give their opinions on how Nurse Ratched should rule the ward but are manipulated by her to the way she wants them to work. She has some power or rule that enables her to deceive her patients into forgetting about their opinions and become frightened by the Nurse. Along with the staff, Nurse Ratched manipulates her patients in order her to gain control over them. In the story, Nurse Ratched finds Billy Bibbit, a patient, in a bed with a prostitute. She decides to use this evidence to make him feel shameful, 'Mrs. Bibbit's always been so proud of your discretion. I know she has. This is going to disturb her terribly. You know how she is when she gets disturbed, Billy; you know how ill the poor woman can become. She's very sensitive, … your mother and I are old friends.' (Kesey 314) Nurse Ratched essentially lies by tricking Billy that her and Billy’s mother are friends. By her lying, Billy is convinced his mother will find out and will end up feeling dishonorable. Truthfully Ratched manipulates her patients because it is easy for her to not care about them, “Nurse Ratched is insincere about the way she treats her patients as she is a person who willingly displays a coldly insincere concern that nevertheless, gets eaten up by the neediest as genuine care” (Munoz 668). Nurse Ratched is deceitful towards the ones around her in order to gain advantage and control her hospital in a dominant sense.

Nurse Ratched's’ forms of manipulation are followed by her tortuous treatments in the hospital. Nurse Ratched took her patients in a room and decided to experiment on him instead of curing him, “Ellis is a chronic came in an Acute and got fouled up bad when they overloaded him in that filthy brain-murdering room that the black boys call the ‘Shock Shop’” (Kesey 16). Once the patients arrived at the ward they were labeled as either Acute or Chronic. If you were an Acute, that basically meant you are curable because the condition of illness was not as deadly. However, a chronic meant that you were no longer curable. Ellis was an Acute at first but was forced to enter the “Shock Shop” by the Nurse and essentially became incurable. She “kills” her patients so she does not have to waste time in helping them, as she continues to manipulate the. She treats her patients as if they are dead, “who has successfully reduced the rest of the men to sheep-like creatures through her patronizing and authoritarian manner” (Van Nostrand 23). The hospital is designed as more of a prison because of the emotional state the narrator feels on a simple “vacation.” Chief Bromden and other patients were allowed to leave the hospital for awhile, “My name was there, the last put down, across from the number nine. I was actually going out of the hospital with two whites on a fishing boat; I had to keep saying it over and over to myself to believe it” (Kesey 225). Bromden was ecstatic he was allowed to leave the hospital because the whole time they have been trapped there. McMurphy’s resilient efforts granted the patients to have some free time and explore around. Bromden could not believe that he was actually leaving that he kept reminding himself, it was too good to be true. The hospital was operated as a prison because of the captivity the patients were in and how some of them were physically tortured.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey portrays how Nurse Ratched is a wicked human being because of the descriptive language associated with her, her instances with the patients in the hospital, and how she operates her ward as a prison. Throughout the novel, the descriptiveness of cold is associated with Nurse Ratched to show how she has no emotion for the other characters in the novel. She treats her patients in the hospital as if they are slaves because she makes them work for her and manipulates them. She creates a prison-like environment because she brutally tortures the patients and does not allow them to escape the hospital. The cruelty within the novel can also be seen in many other works of literature as well as our society today.

Works Cited

  • Gilead, Amihuad. “Cruelty, Singular Individuality, and Peter the Great.” Philosophia 43.2
  • (2015): 338. Web. 9 May 2018.
  • Muñoz, Manuel. “A Veritable Angel of Mercy: The Problem of Nurse Ratched in Ken
  • Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” (2013): 668. Web. 9 May 2018.
  • Van Nostrand, Jillian. “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest: A portrait of despair in one dimension.”
  • Film Criticism 1.1: 23. Web. 9 May 2018.          
29 April 2022
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