However, McMurphy was only able to defeat the nurse from what he learned when she defeated him in his bid to change the television schedule. ‘Cheswick shows his hand higher and glares around. Scanlon shakes his head, and then raises his hand, keeping his elbow on the arm of the chair. And nobody else. McMurphy can’t say a word. ‘ In this defeat, McMurphy learns that he must convince the patients of an idea before being faced with the nurse; otherwise, the patients become frightened of her and lose their nerve.
Once again, McMurphy attempted to change the TV schedule, but failed again due to technicalities such as the vote of the chronic patients, and the fact that the meeting had ended before McMurphy was able to get the majority vote so the motion was not carried. This incident formed a bond between the patients against the hospital staff, and they had gained an important ally in Dr Spivey, an unwary double agent. However, In Regeneration the patients of Craiglockhart do not treat staff as if they were afraid of them. The doctors and nurses of Craiglockhart are less authoritative and are lenient with the rules of conduct.
‘One of the VAD’s tugged at it. “There’s room for two in there,” she said, smiling, coaxing. “Have I to get in with you? “‘. The patients treat doctors with respect and are friendly towards other patients, however at times the patients appear to fear treatment. ‘”There’s no area of analgesia,” Rivers said to Sister Rogers. Prior snatched up the pad. “IF THAT MEANS IT HURT YES IT DID”‘. On the other hand, in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ the patients treat nurse Ratched with minimal respect and some of the patients are very unprofessional in what they say and do to her and the other student nurses.
It can be said that Craiglockhart is more civilised as a hospital, and nurse Ratched’s ward can be compared to a high school classroom where the patients are conspiring as to how they can defeat the nurse, similar to the way students may act together to outwit a teacher. Nurse Ratched constantly undermines her patients in front of one another to make them feel inadequate; almost emasculating them. ‘Right at your balls. No, that nurse aint some kinda monster chicken, buddy, what she is, is a ball-cutter.
‘ On the other hand, Rivers sees his patients as his equals and treats them with high regard, even though Rivers himself is more intelligent and qualified than almost all of the patients that he treats. Patients in Ratched’s ward also resent the ward itself and its confines, and wish they could escape the dreariness of it all. The irony of this is that most of the patients who complain are not committed and are only in the hospital voluntarily, so they could walk out of the door at a moment’s notice; however, the patients are unable to do this due to nurse Ratched making them feel inadequate and therefore unfit for society.
When McMurphy discovers that it is the Nurse who decides how long a patient spends on the ward, he is beside himself with anger, directed mainly at the other acute patients for egging him along against the nurse, when all the while they knew that it would only get him committed for a longer period. Conversely, we are given the impression that all the patients at Craiglockhart are committed, however they all have the freedom to roam most of the institution and the outdoor facilities such as the golf course ‘Prior watched the amber lights winking in his beer.
He was sitting in the shadowy corner of a pub in some sleazy district of Edinburgh. ‘ The patients are allowed to leave the hospital premises and are trusted to be responsible enough to return. In ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, patients are not even allowed to leave the premises without an accompanied pass. This is needed in order for McMurphy to take a group of the patients and Dr Spivey, one of the resident doctors of the hospital, on a fishing trip later in the novel. The fishing trip was organised by McMurphy for a number of reasons that could only possibly be contrived by a person of sound mind.
The first of these reasons is to deliver a blow to the nurse’s control over the patients and to show them that they are in fact free to do what they wish. His other incentives were money, which he acquired from the remainder of the funds from patients used hire the boat, and also the chance to spend some time alone with a woman who would be accompanying the men on the boat, something that we can presume McMurphy has not been able to do for a while now. During the fishing trip, we are able to see the effect of nurse Ratched’s enfeeblement of the patients when they enter the garage to buy fuel.
The mechanics at the garage are taken aback by the sight of patients from a psychiatric institution, and the awkward exchanges between the doctor and the mechanics only make things worse. It is at this moment when McMurphy comes to the rescue of the patients and confronts the workers at the garage. ‘we’re every bloody one of us hot of the criminal-insane ward, on our way to San Quentin where they got better facilities to handle us. ‘ McMurphy lies and uses bravado to frighten the mechanics and empower the patients, who no longer feel as if they are the laughing stock of town and begin to order the workers around.
This is an example of how mental illness is perceived in society at the time the book was set, and how the patients were able to overcome its stigma, if only for a short period. Their personal triumph was over once the patients had reached the fishing port and were confronted by sailors who took the opportunity to make suggestive jokes about the patients’ female companion, as they stood there helplessly, unable to defend her without the presence of McMurphy. In ‘Regeneration’, the reader encounters a similar stigma attached to mental illness.
One particular case involves the character Prior, who is questioned about why he was not wearing his blue hospital badge. Prior retorts to Rivers’ question, stating that ‘I wasn’t wearing the badge because I was looking for a girl. Which – as you may or may not know – is not made easier by going around with a badge stuck on your chest saying I AM A LOONY. ‘ Prior assumes, perhaps from experience, that wearing his hospital badge would be a deterrent for women as nobody seems to jump at the opportunity to be involved with a mentally ill person.
Another incident in involving the badge occurred with Sassoon when he went to the Conservative Club to meet Rivers. ‘looking at the young man in uniform evoked, and then – or perhaps he was being oversensitive? – with a slight ambivalence, a growing doubt, as they worked out what the blue badge on his tunic meant. ‘ Once again, the reader is presented with a situation in which people change their opinions when faced with an ‘outcast’ from society, someone who is irrational and is therefore supposed to be unacceptable to the general public. Near the end of ‘Regeneration’ Barker introduces another psychiatrist called Dr Lewis Yealland.
He is similar to Rivers in that Yealland is also highly respected and acclaimed on his work; however, the underlying difference between the two characters is in the way they treat their patients. Where Rivers would tend towards having a conversation with the patient to solve the problem, Yealland prefers to cast a dominating presence to the patient, neglecting their views and suggestions. ‘”No”, Yealland said. “The time for more electrical treatment has not yet come; if it had I should give it to you. Suggestions are not wanted from you, they are not needed.
“‘ Yealland does not allow patients to express themselves as he feels that any self-diagnosis by a patient is a threat to his judgement, and this is intolerable in his treatment. Yealland can be compared to nurse Ratched, in that both the characters require dominance in a situation and superiority over those under their jurisdiction. Another difference between Rivers and Yealland would be that Rivers, as mentioned before, endeavours to resolve the problem that the patient is suffering from, thus curing the patient of his illness, whereas Yealland merely addresses the symptom arising from the illness and treats the patient to rid them of this.
He eradicates the symptom, while this is only the tip of the figurative iceberg, and neglects the patient’s psychological problem, which caused the symptom in the first place. In the novel, Yealland serves a larger purpose as a metaphor for the control that the government exerts over citizens, indifferent towards the voices of individuals, for example, the voice of Siegfried Sassoon, which was ignored and discredited by the government in the same way Yealland ignores and discredits his patients’ views.
Yealland provides the reader with a clear, yet cleverly concealed allegorical view of the novel where the same concept is repeated for a greater effect on the reader’s opinion of both the presentation of mental illness and the way it is treated, and also the government’s approach to dealing with soldiers who cry out against the unjustness of war. Nearer the end of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’, McMurphy throws a party one night for his farewell as he plans to break out of the ward and make his escape that night.
The party is not sanctioned by the nurse who has no idea of its taking place, so McMurphy knows that he must leave otherwise he will be punished severely for his actions. On the night of the party McMurphy organises for a girl to come onto the ward and make love to Billy Bibbit, making him lose his virginity. McMurphy’s plan of escape fails and the nurse returns in the morning to find the atrocities that have taken place on her ward.
She confronts Billy Bibbit about his actions, and he seems confident, however once the nurse threatens to informs Billy’s mother of his wrong doing Billy breaks down and pleads with her not to do so. ‘”Nuh! Nuh! ” His mouth was working. He shook his head, begging her. “You d-don’t n-n-need! “‘ Billy is so disturbed by the prospect of his mother finding out about his actions, that he takes his own life shortly after the nurse confirms that she will inform his mother. After this event, the ward changes dramatically.
Patients who were not committed begin to leave; Sefelt, Frederickson, even Harding. McMurphy was taken away for a lobotomy, which succeeded in calming him down, but it did so to the point where he would not fit the description of a mentally ill patient, but more of a breathing corpse. The Chief cannot stand to look at this change in McMurphy so he resorts to suffocating him in order to put out his suffering once and for all. On doing so, the Chief escapes the ward by picking up the control panel in the tub room and throwing it through the window.
This mirrors the event where McMurphy attempted to lift the control panel, the difference being that the Chief succeeded where McMurphy failed by learning from him. This event is a representation of the book as a whole, where one man’s titanic struggle and failure managed to stimulate another man’s will to live, and as one circle of life draws to a close, a new one begins. Emile Khan – 1 – Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ken Kesey section.