One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Essays Example
Randle Patrick McMurphy is one of the chief characters in the book “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. McMurphy’s role appears to be that of a liberator of sorts. He comes in and brings a breath of fresh air and a new way of doing things. That McMurphy has been cast as an almost Messianic character is no coincidence. This is because the whole book itself is peppered with inferences to the Messianic story of redemption. This paper attempts to draw parallels between some scenes in this story and the Biblical story of Jesus Christ.
The first comparison arises from the theme of the story. In this story, the primary theme is that of redemption and liberation. This is similar to the story of Jesus, who came to the world to save us from sin. Just like Christ, it appears McMurphy’s arrival is meant to save the inmates from Nurse Ratched and her tyrannical rule. Again, the climax of the book is with the martyrdom of McMurphy. This in itself mirrors the martyrdom of Christ on the cross.
The second evidence of a Christian allusion is in the first appearance of Murphy in the book. He is described as laughing heartily on his introduction to the other inmates. McMurphy tells the other inmates that the miseries of life are alleviated through laughter. Similarly, Christianity teaches that sins are redeemed through salvation. Hence, the laughter is a symbol of salvation. The other allusion to Christ comes along when there is reference to the electroshock table. This table is described as being shaped like a cross and also, instead of a crown of thorns, we have a crown of electric sparks. The shape of the table is reminiscent of the Roman crucifixions of ancient times. Ellis is one of those punished this way which reminds us of what used to happen to rebellious people in those times.
The next reference is that of the foreshadowing that is used. It is quite clear what the eventual fate of McMurphy will be. He is destined for a date with the executioner. Yet, he makes no attempt to avoid this fate. This is similar to the Biblical story of Christ in which despite knowing what would happen, he still did not attempt to evade it. Later in the book, Ellis tells Bibbit as he goes out to fish to be a fisher of men. This is similar to the phrase Jesus used for his disciples. Also, on the same issue of fishing, McMurphy leaves to go fishing with 12 inmates. This is just like the 12 disciples that Jesus had. Again, McMurphy leaves to go fishing with the “disciples” to test their faith. This is similar to what Jesus did in the Bible where he left to go fishing with his disciples to test their faith. During the actual fishing, McMurphy takes a background role while the patients come into their element. This is comparable to the Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit. It is at this point that McMurphy’s “disciples” are filled with the “McMurphy Spirit.” Again, when the life jackets in the boat are not enough for everyone, McMurphy picks one to permit the people who feel the greatest need to express themselves to do so.
Also, the false show of bravado put up by the disciples of Jesus when he was about to be crucified is akin to the actions of the patients in the aftermath of the gas station incident. They put on a false front but their bluff gets called soon enough as it is only delaying the inevitable. Yet another reference to the story of Christianity comes when McMurphy goes out of the limelight for a while. He attempts to toe the line and act according to the rules in an effort to appease Nurse Ratched. This can be compared with the 40 day sabbatical undertaken by Jesus Christ in the desert. For both, it serves as a period of reflection and just like Christ; McMurphy comes out of it continuing with his liberation efforts. This is evident when he pushes his hand through the nurses’ station window. This can be viewed as a metaphor for the clearing of the temple by Christ when he returned to the city of Jerusalem.
An allusion to the Biblical story of Christ’s crucifixion would be incomplete without a Last Supper story. This coupled with a betrayal by one of his “loyal” followers and also a story about death and resurrection. This storyline is evident in the events leading up to the death of McMurphy. The party held in the ward can represent this Last Supper. The comparison is made even more vivid by the presence of the cough syrup laced with wine. This can represent the wine in the Biblical story. The presence of the prostitutes can also be compared with then Mary Magdalene of the Bible. Also, in the Bible, Judas betrays Jesus and later on commits suicide. This case is similar to the betrayal of McMurphy by Bibbit. Bibbit later on kills himself. The cruel lobotomy that McMurphy undergoes is then similar to the crucifixion of Christ. Resurrection comes about via the escape of Chief, who immortalizes McMurphy’s Gospel by escaping to go spread it, just like Jesus’ disciples did after his death.
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