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Great Selection Of Essay Topics For One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest


One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a novel by Ken Kasey and published in 1962, is a modern classic. The novel unfolds in Oregon, USA in an insane asylym and is an acclaimed study of the human mind and how psychiatric institutions worked at the time.

Chief Bromden, a half Native American presumed to be deaf and mute, narrates the novel. He focuses on Randle McMurphy and his antics in the hospital involving other patients and staff. Mildred Ratched, the Head Nurse, reigns over the hospital with an iron fist and is antagonized by McMurphy at every turn.

Here is a great selection of essay topics for the novel, along with a brief description of each to help you get going:

  1. 1. Why is the story narrated by Bromden instead of the central character of Randle McMurphy?
  2. Bromden has been freed and has not been lobotomized, meaning he can narrate the story of McMurphy and take the concluding lessons to the world outside.

  3. 2. How does the fishing trip help the patients?
  4. When the patients are confronted with the seamen, they are unable to respond in-kind to their insults, relying instead on McMurphy’s help. Once out to the sea though, McMurphy steps aside and leaves his fellow patients to their own devices. To their great surprise, they learn that they can handle things themselves and net themselves a large catch, giving them a new perspective of themselves as able men.

  5. 3. How does the novel inspire debate about the treatment of the “individual” by society?
  6. Kasey, through his narrator Bromden, sees modern society as an all-enveloping, oppressive force that forces its occupants, the individuals, to conform to its norms and become just another link in the chain. Through the main character, McMurphy, Kasey challenges this way of doing things and shows that there is space in the world for individual freedoms.

  7. 4. Who is the true villain of this story?
  8. Nurse Ratched is a symbol of an oppressive, machine-like modern society and its decrepit institutions that force its individuals to conform to its norms. Therefore, although she is nominally the villain, the true villain in this story is society.

  9. 5. What is Electroshock Therapy used for by the staff of the hospital?
  10. Electroshock therapy was a recognized tool for treatment of psychiatric patients at the time. Chief Bromden, the narrator, positions the therapy as a last resort to be used in the most extreme cases. However, Nurse Bromden uses electroshock therapy as a tool of punishment for patients who do not conform to her totalitarian control of the hospital.

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