Journeys Essay - Girl, Interrupted and Cuckoo's Nest

The power structures within institutions give control and potential for power to certain individuals while suppressing the identity of others. The theme of control is outstanding in both of the texts, and is an underlying factor for all events to occur. Both Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Susanna Kaysen’s account of her experience in James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted (1999) are set in 1960’s America, and they reveal how controversial and pivotal control is in a community.
The tools for control in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are solely for the gain of power. The novel illustrates the effect of power as a microcosm, the institution; as all patients are manipulated by the one source of power – Nurse Ratched. Unusual for the era, it is the women who control their miniature society, the ward; as most women in the 1960’s were fighting for gender equality and attempting to break the stereotype of the housewife.   Ratched understands this, and uses a sexless uniform to hide her sexuality. She is commonly referred to as the ‘Big Nurse’ due to her powerful role in the ward, making her seem physically larger than the patients, as they are not comfortable or confident. This exaggeration of power alerts the audience of how ironically corrupt the institution is. Through the rise of power, another must fall. The introduction of Randall McMurphy aids patients to control their own lives whilst dismantling Ratched of her status and control. Randall’s boisterous and sexual tendencies displease the Big Nurse, as she heavily suppresses her sexuality for status. He attempts to joke with the other patients, as he states: “You’re not the everyday asshole on the street, but you’re not nuts!” to colloquially and ironically reassure the others that outer society is no saner than their microcosm. Although the power structures are corrupt, those concerned still heavily depend on them.

Through the rise of power of those with leader-like qualities, identities of the...