University of Rutgers Newark
The Power of Leadership
Contemporary American Literature
Leadership is trait that a certain few in this world possess, the old saying “you’re either a leader or follower” applies too many people in this world. People decide whether or not they want to choose a path someone else paved, or take a different route and be the one to make your own. In today’s society we see leadership portrayed in almost every aspect in life, from something as simple as a group project in school, too sports worldwide, and in almost any career chosen. Leadership is something that has evolved as time as progressed, but one thing about leadership has remained the same in its entirety, that with being a leader also a lot of the times comes consequences. In the fictional novel, “One Flew Over the cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey, Leadership is the determining theme of the story, along with themes of masculinity and feminism. The story takes place in a setting of a mental hospital around the 1950’s where the narrator Chief Bromden has resided for about ten years. Bromden pretends to not speak his whole time there as he is extremely paranoid about a worldwide view called the combine, which is his thought that all of society and the people that reside within it will be forced to conformity. Bromden is more of a thinker, he stays to himself and has the same routine for so long until one day Randle McMurphy gets transferred into the mental facility and everything starts to change. The whole mental facility is operated and ran by Nurse Ratched, who was a former army nurse who runs the whole place with very strict rule. Nurse Ratched runs the mental hospital in a very unique way, she divided all the patients into two groups called acutes, who are the people who are able to be cured and the chronicles, the people who cannot be cured. Her practices include getting the acutes to attack each other in the most vulnerable places possible mentally, and physically. If the patients rebel she sends them to electroshock treatments. When McMurphy arrives he changes the whole atmosphere of the hospital. From the instance he arrived at the hospital, Bromden sensed that there was something different about him, he had a lot of confidence and he was the first person to be seen laughing and smiling in the mental hospital. From early on during his arrival, the other patients started to see McMurphy as a leader of the mental hospital. No one has before dared to be rebellious and disobedient to Nurse Ratched, but McMurphy for his rebellious act toward Ratched made him a hero in the hospital. After betting the other patients that he can make Nurse Ratched lose her temper in a week gets taken to another level after he succeeds, the other patients hop on the bandwagon and start to try and attempt to do the same. That is the beginning of the showing of leadership in this novel, and there are multiple perspectives portrayed of what bein...