One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essay

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The role of God within American literature has arguably always been prevalent. From what historian Niall Ferguson describes as “the white plague”, swathes of Europeans arrived to America seeking to impose their religious freedoms after being persecuted in their home nations. Firstly, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest gives an insight to 1950s America, with the insane asylum, acting as a microcosm of 1950s America. Rife with the themes of racism, sexism, religion and mental health issues. The novel represents how God was still the omniscient author within American literature, as the novel is full of references to God, with the main protagonist McMurphy acting as a Christlike figure. Conjointly, a barometer of 1950s America is explored within the works of Robert Lowell (Life Studies), and Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), in which both texts repeatedly challenge the role of God within American literature, and act as mediators in their own right in…show more content…
Robert Faggen wrote that McMurphy brings a “wildness of laughter” to the sterile world of the asylum. Implicating him as the devil’s advocate, as this “wildness” leads to the death of Billy Bibbit later in the novel, and the complete disruption of the authoritarian asylum. Faggen continues by commenting that McMurphy enters the ward as a “pastoral giant coming to ridicule the urban world’s sophistication.” Representing him further as a devilish character, representing the death of God and loss of influence in postwar American literature. Due to McMurphy’s heathen-like behaviour, describing himself as “never married” and having “a history of street brawls and barroom fights”, which goes against religious and societal norms of the 1950s. This clearly represents the death of God’s influence, as the satanic representation of McMurphy was a symbol of the growing counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s, of which Kesey was a part
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