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Symbolism in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Ryan Hutchison

on 11 December 2012

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Transcript of Symbolism in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Symbolism One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Control Panel The Fog Machine Ryan Hutchison & Ana Sofia Campos Period 4 The End - Laughter symbolizes sanity and the refusal to conform to the clutches of the Combine. - For McMurphy, laughter is a potent defense against society’s insanity, and to him, anyone who cannot laugh properly has no chance of surviving. By the end of the fishing trip and as the novel nears its end, Harding, Scanlon, Doctor Spivey, and Sefelt are all finally able to participate in real, thunderous laughter, a sign of their physical and psychological recovery. - McMurphy's laughter is the first genuine laughter the patients on the ward have heard in years. Through laughter, the patients are able to exhibit how much their conditions have improved. LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE -"They start the fog machine again and it's snowing down cold and white all over me like skim milk, so thick I might even be able to hide in it if they didn't have a hold on me." pg.7
-"I know why, now: as bad as it is, you can slip back in it and feel safe. That's what McMurphy can't understand, us wanting to be safe. He keeps trying to drag us out of the fog, out in the open where we'd be easy to get at." pg.128
-"I'd never worked at coming out of it before." pg. 288
-"...or if you want to bad enough I found you can come fighting right out of it. This time I came fighting out of it in less than a day, less time than ever." pg. 289 - As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that McMurphy is to be regarded as a Christ-figure.
- Ellis, who received EST and is now nailed to the wall with his arms stretched out, as if he were being crucified.
- It is Ellis who says to Billy Bibbit, to be a “fisher of men,” which is what Christ said to the fisherman Peter when he called Peter to be his disciple.
- The table which is used for the EST treatments is shaped like a cross, which suggests the crucifixion of Christ.
- McMurphy takes twelve people with him on the trip, just as Christ had twelve disciples, and he chooses to see out his mission to free the patients from their slavery to the hospital, even at the expense of his own safety.
- The party on the ward was also representative of a sort of Last Supper farewell to McMurphy like the the in the Bible, the Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Apostles before his crucifixion. - In this novel, fogs symbolize a lack of insight and an escape from reality.
- When Chief starts to slip away from reality, whether it be because of his medication or out of fear, he hallucinates fog drifting into the ward. He imagines that there are hidden fog machines in the vents being controlled by the staff to be turned on and off whenever they so choose.
- Although it can be frightening at times, Chief considers the fog to be a safe place; he can hide in it and ignore reality.
- The fog also represents the state of mind that Ratched imposes on the patients with her strict, mind-numbing routines and humiliating treatment. - When McMurphy arrives, he drags all the patients out of the fog. - The control panel represents both the Nurse and the Combine and the the immense power and control they exert over the patients.
- When McMurphy tried and failed to lift the control panel, he was showing the men that they would have to band together if they want to break out of the ward because no single man is able to get out of the ward on his own.
- By Chief using the control panel to break out of the ward, he is using what has been used against him for so many years to finally set himself free. - "I realize all of a sudden it's the first laugh I've heard in years." pg. 12
- "Dials twitch in the control panel at the sound of [his laugh]." pg. 19
- "[Harding] does his best to laugh. A sound comes out like a nail being crowbarred out of a plank of green pine." pg. 62
- "Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing." pg. 70
- "The doctor is wiping tears off his glasses and looks like he’s actually been laughing." pg. 107
- "I tried to stop it but I could feel I was about to laugh." pg. 217
- "Maybe he couldn’t understand why we weren’t able to laugh yet, but he knew you can’t really be strong until you can see a funny side to things." pg. 239 - "Spreading his laugh out across the water... because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance." pg. 250
- "Swinging a laughter that rang out on the water in ever-widening circles, farther and farther, until it crashed up on beaches all over the coast, on beaches all over all coasts, in wave after wave after wave." pg. 250
- Everybody laughed... this wasn't the way things used to be before that damned redhead came around." pg. 271
- "She was answered with a chorus of laughter, and her eyes went around the men." pg. 313 - "Now he's nailed against the wall in the same condition they lifted him off the table for the last time, in the same shape, arms out, palms cupped, with the same horror on his face." pg. 16
-"You are strapped to a table, shaped, ironically, like a cross, with a crown of electrics sparks in place of thorns." pg. 69
-"There's blood on the levers where he tore his hands" pg.125
-"... and Ellis pulled his hands down off the nails in the wall and squeezed Billy Bibbit's hand and told him to be a fisher of men."pg. 234 Parallel to Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
-"As McMurphy led the twelve of us toward the ocean." pg. 239
-"I wash my hands of the whole deal." pg 276
-"And M-M-McMurphy! He did. and Harding!.." pg 315 -"The panel is steel and cement, half of the size of one of the tables, probably weighs four hundred pounds." pg.123
-"But, for just a second, when we hear the cement grind at our feet, we think, by golly, he might do it." pg.125
-" I stepped back he was all grins and pointing to where the panel was off it mooring by half a foot. Better set her back where she came from, buddy, so nobody'll know. Mustn't let anybody know yet." pg 268
-" I put my back toward the front screen, then spun and let the momentum carry the panel through the screen and window with a ripping crash. The glass splashed out in the moon, like a bright cold water baptizing the sleeping earth." pg. 324 Laughter Religious Symbolism
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