Essay: Nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Nurse Ratched is a flat and one-dimensional character as is evidenced in the novel. She is of the opinion that she is final and nobody should compromise her decisions. She is nicknamed Big Nurse because of her highhanded ness since her character is represented by the symbol of the “electroshock therapy” table.(Kesey 10) Bromden refers to her as a machine because her character is like that of a machine. When she decides that one of the patients is being uncooperative, she sends him straight to the electroshock without compromise. She determines those who are sane and those who are not. Her character is like that of a machine that has been programmed to perform a certain duty since it will never stop doing so unless it is stopped. Through her, we find out that she is of no help to the patients. She comes in the hospital with the no nonsense attitude present in the army since she is a former army nurse. This shows that despite the change in her work environment she is reluctant to change just like a machine.
Ironically, she has qualities, which are not mechanical in the sense that she has a big bosom, which she hides through her clothing. She has large breasts, which represent sexuality and a mother figure in the ward. At some times she represents “an angel of mercy” but at the same time uses shame to force the patients into submission. (Kesey 55) Though the patients trust her and tell her, their dirtiest secrets she uses them as a weapon. Through her interactions with McMurphy, we realize that she is human for he outwits her at sometimes. McMurphy uses her sexuality to show that she is just a pretender as she uses her false therapeutic tactics.