One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Cuckoo’s Nest
There is much strength associated with both speech and silence. One can use either to their advantage in a power struggle. In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Randle Patrick McMurphy and Nurse Ratched employ the power of speech and Chief Bromden uses the power of silence until the end of the novel when he gains the power of speech. These cases prove that the greatest power is not held in speech or silence alone, but in the effective combination of the two.
Many people believe verbal communication to be a very powerful way of expressing oneself. Words gain there power when the volume is raised and lowered alternatively to make a point. Additionally, the influence of speech can manifest itself in a number of ways. It can be used to humiliate, to intimidate, to flirt and to threaten, all of which are integral and pragmatic strategies to win a power struggle.
McMurphy uses his power of speech to rally his fellow patients against Nurse Ratched who is constantly revoking their privileges. He also uses it furtively to acquire all that he desires, by conning the other patients. Throughout the novel he is very loud and is known for his unwavering ability to speak his mind and confront those that oppose him.
Nurse Ratched uses her voice throughout the novel to intimidate the patients. She is the antagonist of the novel. The patients obsequiously follow Ratched’s command, until McMurphy comes along. They all fear that she will send them for shock therapy if they don’t obey her. Nurse Ratched is the most daunting persona of the novel, due in large part to the use of her voice.
. Throughout the novel both McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are continually trying to pull each other down. Nurse Ratched using her dominant speaking skills tries to prove to the patients that McMurphy is conning them with his vocalizations, “Look at some of these gifts, as devoted fans of his might call them. First, there was the gift of the tub room. Was that actually his to give? Did he lose anything by acquiring it as a gambling casino? On the other hand, how much do you suppose he made in the short time he was croupier of his little Monte Carlo here on the ward? How much did you lose … I think you all have some idea what your personal losses were, but do you know what his total winning came to, according to deposits he has made at Funds? Almost three hundred dollars”(222). The Nurse begins to convince the patients that McMurphy is harming them more than helping them.
Until the novel’s conclusion, McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are the most authoritative people in the ward. They both have ultimate control over the inmates in accordance with their objectives. McMurphy cons many of the patients into giving him money and had them hanging on his every word. Nurse Ratched struck trepidation into the patients as they were confronted with the possibility that she might physically injure them or refer them for shock therapy. In light of her dominating persona, the patients too follow her command. However, the novel’s close highlights Ratched’s and McMurphy’s loss of power, proving that speech alone can’t be the sole way of gaining control within an environment.
Silence can also be used as a combatant to gain supremacy. “Keeping quiet,” is the best remedy to counteracting an aggressive persona. Rather than attacking, the response of quietude is most effective. It frustrates the hostile individual, causing him to introspect and rethink his belligerent position, and in effect quells the foe. (Silence can also be used to help obtain information that one wouldn’t be able to gain if one is very outspoken. People willingly confide in others who assure them silence and provides them with the solace that “their secret is safe.)
The utilization of silence during a power struggle is prevalent throughout the novel. Chief Bromden uses silence very effectively to his advantage. Everyone thinks that he is deaf and dumb, however, their perception proves to be erroneous, as we learn at the novel’s end. Chief Bromden is a very large man who falsely thinks of
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden