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Theme Of Control In "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" And "Brave New World"

1987 words - 8 pages

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley both deal with enclosed cultures tightly controlled by an authority. Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in a psychiatric ward ruled by the ‘Big Nurse’ while Brave New World encompasses a wider society governed by the World State. Both societies function because dissent is prohibited. In each community an outsider appears who attempts to disrupt the control by exerting his free will. In both texts, free will must be eradicated because it is seen as a threat to the authority and stability of the society. By examining the manner in which control is exerted, the outsider as a subversive element and the necessity of the ...view middle of the document...

This is a more direct example of her control, placing her right in the center of a machine, regulating everything. In fact, the Chief makes references to this machine throughout the book, a “smooth, accurate, precision-made machine” (Kesey 25). In reality, the Big Nurse influences the patients herself, treating them in a condescending matter. She also sets the patients against one another, through encouraging tattling with a log book in which patients record revealing statements about each other told in confidence, with some reward to the writer. As well, her therapy sessions are like ‘pecking parties’ in which “The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin’ at it, see, till they rip to chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers” (Kesey 51). Big Nurse uses the orderlies, the black boys, to subjugate and punish the patients, often with rape.
The black boys come sign for him [the new admission] and take him into the shower room, where they strip him and leave him shivering with the door open while they all three run grinning up down the halls looking for the Vaseline, “We need that Vaseline,” they’ll tell the Big Nurse, “for the thermometer”. She looks from one to the other: “I’m sure you do,” and hands them a jar holds at least a gallon. (Kesey 9)
In this way she is ensuring the black boys’ loyalty to her, by granting them free rein. Medication is also used as a form of manipulation of the inmates. Big Nurse relies on their fear of being transferred to a closed ward for disturbed patients and of shock treatment (62). Thus, the Big Nurse uses a plethora of techniques to establish and maintain her control.
Control is also an important element in Brave New World. It takes place in a much larger context, the entire planet as a World State. Unlike Cuckoo’s Nest, the central authority is not embodied in an individual; it is more detached. The aim is to have a smooth running society, in which there is no dissent, similar to Cuckoo’s Nest in that they are attempting to manipulate the populace into being, effectively, sheep. To this end, personal relationships are discouraged, there are no parents, and “mother” and “father” are dirty words. Instead, embryos are manufactured in jars according to a caste system, and undergo conditioning before “hatching”. The caste system, dictating mainly the intellectual powers of the group, follows the Greek alphabet, with Alphas being the top and most intelligent, while Epsilons form the bottom rank, as semi-morons. Those destined to be of the lower castes undergo a process called bokanonskification, in which one embryo is developed into anywhere between eight and 96 embryos, all identical. “The principle of mass production at last applied to biology” (Huxley 7). Then, conditioning begins. As embryos in an artificial life support, they are put through several different conditions. The lowest castes receive less oxygen and have alcohol added to their containers, keeping...

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