Significance Of Mcmurphys

This inquiry is answered through the probe of five specific facets of McMurphy ‘s life in the refuge: McMurphy ‘s reaching into the refuge, his mending miracles, the alteration and truth McMurphy brings, his followings, and in conclusion, McMurphy ‘s decease. These facets in the novel will convey the disclosures of McMurphy ‘s Christ-likeness and unlikeness, closer to the demands of the research inquiry. In each stage of McMurphy ‘s life, I assessed the extent to which Kesey portrayed McMurphy as a Christ-figure, maintaining in head the purposes of the writer, every bit good as its consequence on the American society in the sixtiess. While utilizing this novel as a primary resource, I besides explored secondary resources like survey ushers, published interviews, diary articles, literary unfavorable judgment and the Internet.

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The essay concludes that Kesey has portrayed McMurphy as a satirical Comic Christ. Kesey eases into the thought of McMurphy as Messiah. McMurphy becomes progressively Christ-like as the secret plan progresses, indicated by the increasing strength of the allusions from simple unnoticeable allusions in his reaching, to articulate scriptural allusions to Christ in his decease. While McMurphy becomes more of a Christ-figure, he still retains the kernel of his character throughout the fresh – his irreverent nature. Through the portraiture of McMurphy as a Comic Christ, Kesey echoes his anti-establishment feelings throughout the novel. This influences the readers ‘ position, peculiarly the priggish American society of the 1960s, on issues such as conformance and individualism. Kesey encourages readers to follow a personal sense of morality, as the positions of the bulk may non needfully be the best.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo ‘s Nest by Ken Kesey captures the anti-establishment sentiments of America in the sixtiess through the reaching of anarchist R.P. McMurphy at a mental refuge in Oregon, the ‘Cuckoo ‘s Nest ‘ of the rubric. Using McMurphy ‘s struggle with Nurse Ratched and the ‘Combine ‘ , this authoritative trades with issues prevalent in its epoch.

The guess that Kesey forms McMurphy after the original of Jesus Christ resounds in much of the literary unfavorable judgment written on One Flew Over the Cuckoo ‘s Nest. This essay aims to determine the extent to which Kesey theoretical accounts McMurphy after Christ. It besides aims to analyze the consequence this has on secret plan development and readers ‘ reactions. It will make this by replying the inquiry: Many critics believe that McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo ‘s Nest by Ken Kesey is intentionally portrayed as a Christ-figure. To what extent does Kesey portray McMurphy as a Christ-figure?

A Christ-figure is an person who displays certain Christ-like traits, and is comparable to Christ of the Bible. The character may possess godly qualities such as the ability to execute miracles. He may besides convey new truths with him, and battle for justness by withstanding authorization. The Christ-figure is frequently a sufferer, giving himself for the release of others. This can be seen as his ultimate act of love.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo ‘s Nest, McMurphy is a analogue of Jesus in some facets. In order to specify the extent to which Kesey wants us to look at McMurphy as a Christ-figure, this essay will dig into five distinguishable facets of McMurphy ‘s life: McMurphy ‘s entryway into the establishment, his miracle healings, the disclosure of truth and alterations McMurphy brings with him, McMurphy ‘s adherents and McMurphy ‘s decease.

The significance of McMurphy ‘s entryway into the refuge.

The novel begins with McMurphy ‘s entryway into the psychiatric ward. Bromden, who narrates the narrative from his position, describes McMurphy as “no ordinary Admission” An ‘Admission ‘ would usually be given an ‘Admission shower ‘ , where Kesey hints that the “black boys” colza the ‘Admissions ‘ with a rectal thermometer. In 1960s America, where racial favoritism was still at its extremum, African-Americans were viewed as the settlings of society. Particularly in the South, African-Americans were capable to harsh intervention. In the 1960s, the colza of the new ‘Admissions ‘ by the “black boys” emphasizes their exposure and failing. Unlike the usual ‘Admission ‘ who submits with a “weak small yes” , McMurphy brassily refuses the ‘Admission shower ‘ . His strength and confidence Markss him as the uneven one out.

McMurphy is in full control of the state of affairs and is non easy pushed around. This is evident when he tells the “black boy” , “Get back off from me with that thermometer, Sam” . Not merely does he command Sam confidently and boldly, he besides calls him by his name. In contrast, one “black boy” describes Bromden, who is a foil to McMurphy, as “big plenty to eat apples off my caput an ‘ he mine me like a baby” . Bromden ‘s cautious and submissive nature high spots McMurphy ‘s self-asserting personality, doing McMurphy seem larger than life despite being physically smaller than Bromden in world.

McMurphy ‘s saneness amidst a ward of mentally sick patients makes him superior. In malice of this, McMurphy enters the ward meekly, agitating everyone ‘s manus. This low act implies that McMurphy regards everyone as an equal, despite being a cut above the remainder.

At this point in the novel, it would ne’er happen to readers that McMurphy is an original of Christ. Kesey makes no intimation of McMurphy as a Christ-figure. McMurphy ‘s entryway into the psychiatric ward is dissimilar to Christ ‘s entryway into the universe, apart from holding a powerful presence, which is barely a character trait sole to Christ.

McMurphy is immensely different from Christ. He is a sex nut convicted of holding sexual dealingss with a “child of fifteen” , every bit good as a “gambling fool”with a deck of cards demoing “fifty-two ( sex ) positions” . The tribunals ruled that he was a sociopath who “fights and screws excessively much” . McMurphy owns pugilist trunkss with “big white whales”resembling Melville ‘s Moby-Dick, which is perchance perceived as a phallic wordplay, though, it can besides symbolize the omnipresent and almighty nature of God, reinstating McMurphy ‘s character as a Christ-figure that is unabashedly sexual. However, McMurphy ‘s profanities make him an unusual Christ-figure, as he engages in the frailties that Christianity teaches against.

In The Comic Christ and the Modern Reader, Richard B. Hauck presents the impression that ‘The Christ-figure Metaphor Hunt ‘ is played between the reader and the writer, whereby readers search for hints that prove a character is an imitation of Christ. In an attempt to conceal the hints, the writer may purposefully delegate conflicting character traits, making a character with moral ambiguity. Possibly it is this electrifying game, together with the humour American readers find in sarcasm, which allows this authoritative to defy the trial of clip.

The consequence of McMurphy ‘s healing miracles.

A common trait of Christ-figures in literature is the ability to execute miracles. McMurphy accomplishes two healing miracles that bear little resemblance to the miracles Christ performed during his life-time.

Ellis, who was one time an ‘Acute ‘ , becomes a ‘Chronic ‘ after being sent to the ‘Shock Shop ‘ to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. “Now he ‘s nailed against the wall in the same status they lifted him off the tabular array for the last clip, in the same form, weaponries out, thenars cupped, with the same horror on his face.”Ellis ‘ place corresponds to the place of a crucified individual. Crucifixion, practiced by ancient Romans, is a agency of penalty for felons. Not merely does it deprive a individual of his self-respect and life, it besides serves as a warning to society on the branchings of offense. Nurse Ratched utilizations Ellis as an instrument to demo others what they can go if they rebel. Unlike a crucified individual who dies shortly after, Ellis ‘ persistent agony occurs daily. After McMurphy tells Ellis to originate because a adult adult male should non be “sloshin ‘ in his ain water” , Ellis responds by momently stepping off from his crucified place Like Christ, McMurphy alleviates other ‘s agony. His ability to arouse a response from Ellis demonstrates his power to let go of a individual from the clasps of immorality that is embodied in Nurse Ratched.

However, McMurphy is no infallible God. He does non pull off to successfully mend Ellis. It is noted that Ellis ‘ miracle is instead ephemeral, as he returns to the original crucified place. If Kesey were to impute Christ-like sovereignty to McMurphy at this point, it may hold upset readers in 1960s America. From a rigorous Christian position, it is considered profane that a mere homo with his defects should be compared to Christ. Kesey bit by bit eases into the thought of McMurphy as a Jesus, alternatively of blatantly flooring readers by turning a disdainful adult male into a saviour overnight.

In the subsequent miracle, McMurphy prompts muted Bromden to talk, by offering him a piece of gum. Bromden opens his oral cavity to thank him This corresponds with Christ ‘s miracle when he caused a deaf-and-dumb person to talk by projecting out a devil within him. In this instance, it is non the devil that prevents Bromden from talking. Rather, it is the fright of the ‘Combine ‘ that suppresses his words, which McMurphy successfully manages to disperse. While Ellis ‘ miracle does non last, Bromden ‘s transmutation is lasting. He begins to pass on progressively with the ‘Acutes ‘ under McMurphy ‘s influence.

Associating back to Kesey ‘s ain experiences, from 1960 to 1961, he volunteered for authorities drug experiments at Menlo Park Hospital. After which, he became a psychiatric adjutant in the same ward. Having spent his clip as both patient and staff, Kesey ‘s confidant cognition of the patients ‘ fortunes aroused a deep sense of empathy for them. In his missive to Babbs titled “PEOPLE ON THE WARD” , Kesey identifies the patients by their “empty eyes” . This presents a affecting image ; alternatively of seeing their psyche through the Windowss of their eyes, all Kesey sees are “dilapidated variety meats, crunching through their organ duties” , as if life in the mental establishment robs patients of their kernel, merely like how Ellis and Bromden deteriorate from ‘Acutes ‘ to ‘Chronics ‘ . This hints Kesey ‘s disfavor for mental establishments, and his hopes for a Jesus for salvation.

Another reading is that these miracles are metaphors for the political state of affairs in America in the 1960ss. Patients are referred to as “mechanical puppets”controlled by Nurse Ratched. The mental unwellnesss that she inflicts upon patients either rob them of the ability to show or restrict self-expression, which Kesey reveals through the agony Ellis and muted Bromden severally. Ellis and Bromden represent society, and the ‘Combine ‘ , the authorities. Possibly Kesey feels that the authorities suppresses one ‘s individualism, and McMurphy is a projection of his desire to free society from the outlook to conform.

The impact of the disclosure of truth and alterations that McMurphy brings with him.

Not merely do McMurphy ‘s miracles encourage self-expression, McMurphy leads by illustration, audaciously showing his positions that differ from society. Though McMurphy and Christ are similar in this regard, the disclosures and alter each brings is different. Before Christ ‘s reaching, the Pharisees had established legion regulations for what was considered ‘rest ‘ on the Sabbath. Jesus defied the regulations by mending a adult male on the Sabbath, stating the Pharisees, “What adult male is at that place among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a cavity on the Sabbath, will he non take clasp of it and raise it out? How much more valuable so is a adult male than a sheep! ”Jesus redefined ‘rest ‘ on the Sabbath and taught them that making good plants on the Sabbath is far more indispensable than adhering to rites. This is one of the many cases where Jesus challenged the Pharisees ‘ readings of regulations.

McMurphy, similarly, inquiries the regulations by exposing the purposes of Nurse Ratched. Contrary to Harding ‘s beatific word picture of Nurse Ratched as a “sweet, smiling, stamp angel of mercy” , the sibilance in “sweet” , “smiling” and “mercy” brings out a sissing sound, like that of the snake in Genesis, that led to Adam and Eve ‘s ruin. From this, readers can garner that she may non be who she appears to be. Like the snake, she might possess evil motivations.

Furthermore, McMurphy likens curative Sessionss to a “peckin ‘ party” , where one poulet is ripped to “shreds, blood and castanetss and feathers” . He reveals that Nurse Ratched does non hold the patient ‘s public assistance in head. She initiates the battles by taking the first batch “where it hurts the most” , in an effort to weaken them into conformity. Explosive words in the description of the curative Sessionss are uttered with force, stressing her bestiality.

This novel is perchance a medium to voice Kesey ‘s political dissatisfaction. In 1950s America, Eisenhower, a five-star military general and rightist conservative, served his term as President. It was an epoch of conformance under his leading. Kesey, nevertheless, did non conform to social criterions, but rebelled against conservative social norms of his clip. In a society where the typical American adult male had strict spiritual positions, Kesey ‘s behavior was controversial. Through the exposure of Nurse Ratched ‘s wicked purposes, Kesey encourages Americans to oppugn policies implemented by the authorities. Obviously, Kesey was non the lone 1 who thought that some regulations would smother one ‘s individualism. Anti-establishment feelings were going rampant, with Hollywood films like ‘Rebels Without A Cause ‘ .

Another disclosure that McMurphy brings is that the patients are non the coneies they believe to be. Harmonizing to Harding, “The rite of our being is based on the strong acquiring stronger by devouring the weak. We must larn to accept it as a jurisprudence of the natural world… ( The coney ) knows his topographic point. He most surely does n’t dispute the wolf to combat.”This is similar to the messages that Christ preached about the meek inheriting the earthand turning the other cheek when 1 is wronged. Similarly, the inmates ‘ behavior is Christ-like. They believe they are non traveling to win by contending, and do non revenge against the ‘Combine ‘ .

However, McMurphy proves that the coneies can get the better of the wolf. He alters institutionalized policies by Nurse Ratched, sing the screening of World Series, the usage of the bath room for the ‘Acutes ‘ , every bit good as coffin nail rationing. The message Kesey brings is different from Christ. Kesey preaches that one must asseverate himself in order to salvage his life, contrary to scriptural instructions that one must lose himself in order to salvage his life.

During the 1960ss, the coney metaphor allowed society to see themselves as Kesey does. Having progressed from the 1950ss, America was traveling through a series of rapid alterations. This decennary saw the rise of the counterculture – the civil rights motion, cheery release, sexual revolution and Beat Movement. Kesey was portion of the Beat Generation. In the context of the establishment, the 1s who submit to Nurse Ratched are the mentally insane “rabbits” . Conversely, readers perceive McMurphy, who challenges Nurse Ratched ‘s authorization, as sane. Through this scene and Harding ‘s metaphor, readers view the conformists of society through Kesey ‘s eyes. Kesey makes readers chew over, “Is it insane to dispute regulations and authorization? Could it be that the mentally insane are, in fact, the 1s who subject themselves without inquiry to governments? ”

The similitude of Christ ‘s adherents and McMurphy ‘s followings.

Besides uncovering truths that instil assurance in the patients, McMurphy besides empowers them when he “ ( leads ) the 12 of ( them ) toward the ocean” , to go “fishers of men”- merely as Jesus did. This is a direct allusion to Jesus, who takes his 12 adherents fishing.

McMurphy ‘s adherents are empowered with laughter, and manage to happen humour amidst catastrophe. Their laughter “rang out on the H2O in ever-widening circles, further and further… in moving ridge after moving ridge after wave.”This is like McMurphy ‘s laugh which “spreads in rings bigger and bigger till it ‘s lapping against the walls all over the ward” . The imagination of huge infinite that their laughter reaches emphasizes its genuineness. It is unrestricted and emancipating. This is contrasted with the snorts the patients make with their fistsearlier on. Their laughter seems controlled, as if it forced within the confines of their custodies, connoting its falseness. Laughter is a beginning of saneness and strength to McMurphy, who believes that “you have to express joy at the things that hurt you… merely to maintain the universe from running you plumb crazy”and that one “ca n’t truly be strong until ( he ) sees a amusing side to things” . Laughter is a agency of redemption and freedom from subjugation. Unlike Christ ‘s ‘fishers of work forces ‘ who spread the message of redemption, McMurphy ‘s ‘fishers of work forces ‘ are called to distribute the redemptional power of laughter to mankind.

By pulling a parallel to Christ ‘s followings, Kesey casts McMurphy ‘s followings in a favorable visible radiation. McMurphy ‘s adherents, who indulge in laughter, resemble The Merry Pranksters – a group in the Beat Generation who indulged in pleasances untypical of society. Kesey promotes the message that what is deemed socially unacceptable may non needfully be incorrect. Right and incorrect is non determined by the positions of bulk ; but instead, by the effects of the act.

McMurphy empowers his followings with daring. To the gas station military mans who give them condescending expressions, McMurphy lies that they came from the “criminal-insane ward” , with Billy Bibbit who was an “insane knife creative person that killed three men” and so on. This causes everybody to name orders to the service-station work forces, “just like ( they ) owned the show” They stare at people at a halt visible radiation, intimidating them. It is notable how antithetical to Christ, McMurphy uses immoral agencies, like fictions, to authorise his adherents. Possibly it is for Kesey to remind readers that McMurphy is still a blemished homo. In his effort to humanize a Jesus, Kesey relates that one does non hold to be Christ or immortal to possess the same self-sacrificial love that knows no bounds. Although McMurphy maintains his profane temperament, he becomes progressively Christ-like ; non merely in character, but besides in the experiences they portion.

McMurphy ‘s doubtful moral criterions are juxtaposed with his Christ-likeness, to uncover what Kesey feels are the more of import facets of being a Jesus. Kesey and The Merry Pranksters rebelled against authorization by experimenting with psychedelic drugs and their gender. Like non-conformist McMurphy, they took to worldly pleasances. Due to the spiritual rush in post-WW2, readers of the 1960ss would hold frowned upon the apparently unprincipled lives of The Merry Pranksters and McMurphy. By showing McMurphy as a secular Christ-figure, Kesey upholds that the positive part one brings to society overrides the importance of purely adhering to scriptural regulations. McMurphy is proof that a morally flawed character can convey monumental benefits to his community.

The significance in McMurphy ‘s decease.

The events taking to McMurphy ‘s decease stress his Christ-likeness. Because McMurphy fights the Plutos to protect George, Nurse Ratched sends him to be electroshocked. Electroshock intervention is likened to a crucifixion, with a cross-shaped tabular array Before McMurphy ‘s crucifixion, he says, “Anointest my caput with conductant. Make I acquire a Crown of irritants? ”This is comparable to Christ ‘s Crown of irritants. Furthermore, a adult male announces: “I wash my custodies off this whole deal” an reverberation of Pontius Pilate ‘s words before he executed Christ. This foreshadows McMurphy ‘s eventual decease.

Before the crucifixion of Christ, Jesus had his ‘Last Supper ‘ with his adherents. The treasonist Judas Iscariot was amongst them. McMurphy ‘s ‘Last Supper ‘ at the refuge is celebrated with intoxicant and his hiring of two prostitutes, one of whom Bibbit loses his virginity to in the ‘Seclusion Room ‘ Following Nurse Ratched ‘s find and menaces of stating his female parent, Bibbit identifies McMurphy as the originator behind this. He so commits self-destruction by “ ( cutting ) his throat” , unable to manage the guilt. A parallel can be drawn to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus and so hung himself out of compunction

McMurphy, upset about Nurse Ratched ‘s strong influence over Bibbit, smashes through the glass and rips her unvarying down the forepart, exposing her chests In making so, McMurphy brings his concluding disclosure of the truth that Nurse Ratched is simply human, altering the patient ‘s mechanical perceptual experience of her forever. From so on, she “could n’t govern with her old power” , as she could “no longer hide the fact that she was a woman”

McMurphy pays for this with his head – the very thing that defines his life. Nurse Ratched sends him for a leukotomy that leaves him a “Vegetable. Bromden refers to him as “it” , cognizing McMurphy is already dead inside, and “mashed the pillow into the face” to happen that “the look had n’t changed from the space, dead-end look the least bit” . The term “mash” connotes force in the merciful act of killing McMurphy. The paradox of clemency violent death is redolent of the Roman centurion who drove a spear through Christ ‘s side, alleviating his agony by accelerating his decease. McMurphy dies as a crucified individual would: by asphyxiation. He could hold undertaken his program to get away and populate, but chose to decease for the inmates ‘ interest. Likewise, Christ died on the cross to salvage world.

The 1960s society would hold a thorough comprehension of the anguish endured by Christ, a cardinal construct of Christianity. A Christ-like decease for McMurphy efficaciously evokes understanding in readers. Hence, it is likely that the readers ‘ regard for McMurphy, who sacrifices his very being, far outweigh their feelings of disapproval sing McMurphy ‘s profane jokes.

Merely as Christ resurrected from decease, McMurphy resurrects in his adherents. They become more assured, and are “no more rabbits” as Harding says. As a consequence of his decease, “everything was changing” : about everyone either signed out or transferred out and the new nurse “gave the cats a opportunity to alter a batch of the ward policy”

Of all his adherents, McMurphy is kept most alive in Chief Bromden. McMurphy transfers his powers to Bromden, who becomes stronger as McMurphy becomes weaker. Previously, the secret plan is seen through Bromden ‘s ill-defined murk, which bit by bit disappears towards the terminal as he additions lucidity of head. The schizophrenic is even able to separate between psychotic beliefs and world, when he says “There was small brown birds on occasion on the fencing ; when a whiff of foliages would hit the fencing the birds would wing off with the air current. It looked at first like the foliages were hitting the fencing and turning into birds and winging away.”At the terminal, he bravely confronts the unhappy yesteryear that caused his insanity, by looking “around the gorge” , “just to convey some of it clear in ( his ) head again” , instead than conceal behind fog and mutism like he had done earlier. Narrating the narrative from Bromden ‘s position allows readers to detect his transmutation.

In Robert Faggen ‘s interview with Kesey during one of his visits to Kesey ‘s Oregon farm in 1992 and 1993, Kesey recounted an event he witnessed: In order to halt the dike undertaking in Portland, an Indian ran into an oncoming truck that carried the stuffs the authorities would utilize to construct the dike. The Indian, who did everything he could to protect his land, prompted Kesey to gain “the impression of what you have to pay for a lifestyle” Kesey ‘s message resounds throughout the novel, even more so after McMurphy ‘s decease. Freedom comes at a cost, but its benefit is far-reaching.


The novel is full with allusions of McMurphy to Christ. Despite McMurphy ‘s typical presence being apparent in the beginning, there is no intimation of his Christ-likeness at that point. On hindsight, Christ came irreproachably and without wickedness as a babe, to a universe full of evildoers. In this regard, he was superior to society ; yet he entered this universe meekly in a trough. While it is no rareness for worlds to possess either an air of high quality or humbleness, it is uncommon for one to be both superior and low. It is just to state that the features of McMurphy are slightly evocative of Christ. While the first miracle that McMurphy performs on Ellis lasts merely for a minute, the subsequent miracle sparks a transmutation in Bromden. Further on, McMurphy begins to bear a greater resemblance to non merely Christ ‘s character, but besides to specific experiences – he brings truth and alteration to his community, and takes his followings on a fishing trip. McMurphy ‘s decease is another allusion. After McMurphy finishes his ‘Last Supper ‘ , one adherent betrays him. This leads to his crucifixion, mental decease through leukotomy and eventually his physical death ; with his Resurrection portrayed through Chief Bromden.

The series of invisible allusions intensify as the secret plan develops. However, while McMurphy learns to be more Christ-like, he is different from Christ. Kesey shapes McMurphy as a petroleum and profane person, doing him a satirical Comic Christ.

Kesey uses McMurphy ‘s journey to Christ-likeness to turn to important issues such as conformance and individualism, the victory of good over evil, freedom from subjugation. These are repeating subjects in most of Kesey ‘s plants, viz. Zoo and Sometimes A Great Notion. McMurphy, as a Christ-figure, brings this novel to a whole new degree of sacrosanctity, which is disposed, sing it holds these subjects that are of import to Kesey. Uneven forces will ever be in this universe, good and evil, the strong and the weak, the dominant and the meek. As such, these issues remain relevant in modern times.

The reading of this novel has been mostly dependent on my perceptual experience of who Christ is. Kesey, who held involvement in psychic phenomena, usage of the I-Ching, Eastern faiths and the Bible, may non hold had the same thought of Christ as others when composing the novel ; but as with all literary plants, reading is unfastened to its readers. Given the huge figure of faiths and civilizations, each person has differing positions on Christ ‘s character. Whether he adheres to Christianity, Judaism, Atheism or any other faith, new syntheses can be created sing these cardinal subjects. After all, as Kesey teaches us, each adult male is entitled to a head of his ain.


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