One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey


“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”

– Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The CuCkoo’s Nest 

            Insanity. How do you grasp such a concept? How do you understand its core and all that it implies? The notion of insanity has always intrigued me and will always be a problem in our society. It’s not the person who gets the etiquette slapped onto their foreheads that are the problem. It’s the “why” that’s truly problematic. After all, aren’t all a little insane? One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel by Ken Kesey, written in 1962. Randle McMurphy, a convict who pleaded insane to serve his sentence in psychiatric hospital instead of prison, is the protagonist who vows to bring life, reason and justice in a place ruled by the great Nurse Ratched. Believing that a psychiatric hospital would be an easier ride through his punishment, McMurphy is soon to discover that this very institution has more in store for him than he believes. Touching upon themes such as insanity, freedom, pleasure and many more, this story is told through the eyes of a alleged deaf patient, Chief Bromden.


“All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”

– Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The CuCkoo’s Nest

            This book is so magical, it would make your favorite sorcery movie jealous. Told through a narrator that is also a patient in the same ward as McMurphy, readers get to see the impact that a rebellious man that seeks to overpower Nurse Ratched and her tight grip on the patients. Did I mention that the narrator was also a schizophrenic paranoiac that tends to have moments where he slowly drifts in an imaginative world whenever he takes his medication or feels a huge load of stress? The writing in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is just unbelievable. Although it might sometimes be confusing to follow the events due to the amount of realism put into the narrator, every scene manages to capture the atmosphere in the ward. From sadness to joy, nothing is left unexplored. Everything that McMurphy does affects every other patient and Chief Bromden explains it wonderfully. The plot essentially revolves in the protagonist attempting to overthrow the nurses control on her patients in order to give everyone control over themselves. Freedom of speech. Freedom to act. Freedom to do what every human being is entitled to. McMurphy serves as a leader to a group of individuals brain washed into believing their insanity and inabilities. However, McMurphy’s action bring him to later realize that he wasn’t helping his own case. His adventures soon become a road to discovery and gets him to do things in which he believes strongly.


“He knows that you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”

– Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The CuCkoo’s Nest

            How can someone read through this novel and not be impressed by the characters? Randle McMurphy has one of the best personalities ever developed by an author. He comes out as a narcissistic and manipulative person, but also depicts a character who seeks to bring life into patients that were deprived of it. As you read the story, you realize that he embodies pleasure and joy. From gambling to fishing, he slowly shows the other characters what happiness is and how laughter is crucial to sanity. On the other hand, you also have the giant cloak of oppressiveness that Nurse Ratched lays upon everyone. You don’t go through this book without feeling restrained and stripped to your bones whenever she’s around. The pressure she builds in everyone, the stress she invokes like a magic spell, her character was truly amazing. Then there’s the narrator and his point of view that serves as a great source for readers to understand the reality of the patients in the psychiatric hospital. Not only does he show us the daily events and transformations that go on since the arrival of Randle McMurphy, he also plays an important role in showing readers a rather disturbed reality they live and the horrible institution in which they live. In fact, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest manages to depict the whole institutionalization as a joke. Patients and the treatments they get, the way they are treated, the way they decide an individuals progression or regression to the way they handle situations. The author does an amazing job in showing readers the need to reform institutions such as prisons and hospitals. Behaviorism has never been better explored and critiqued than in this novel. Was conditioning ever the solution?

Furthermore, McMurphy builds friendships like none other. He seeks trust and tries to exhibit everyone’s better traits. In fact, what the protagonist creates is more than friendships, it’s a society. Something that doesn’t abide by the same rules that the psychiatric hospital – or should I say Nurse Ratched – lays upon everyone. What this displays is the key moral to a great story. Ken Kesey shows through his story that society knows the oppressor and oppressed reality in many spheres. It’s by challenging this that we can reclaim rights stripped away from us. But challenging it doesn’t mean going up against it in a full frontal assault. This story shows that creating a society in a society can do the same damage. It’s by showing the oppressors, Nurse Ratched in this case, that you will not let others dominate you and by showing solidarity among each other that change will be obtained. The whole allegory to a dominate-dominated concept was truly interesting to my eyes. Notably how it was displayed through a revolution between patients alleged insane against nurses who promote the use of medication for anything and everything, lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).


“High high in the hills, high in a pine tree bed.
She’s tracing the wind with that old hand, counting the clouds with that old chant,
Three geese in a flock
one flew east
one flew west
one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”

– Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The CuCkoo’s Nest

           This classic master piece deserves to be read at least once in everyone’s life. The themes it explores, the characters it presents, the story it builds, everything is absolutely exquisite and out of this world. One Flew Over The Cuckoo‘s Nest presents a story that is sure to stay in everyone’s memory forever. It manages to convey ideas that are great lessons in life and doesn’t fret in denouncing the horrible things that go on under our eyes. I’ve seen so many articles and presentations on insanity and one thing’s for sure, you just can’t prove a person’s insanity with the presence of a couple of symptoms from a checklist. Insanity is one of the most complex subject that man has ever known. And laughter? It definitely plays a great role as an inhibitor but to what length? Randle McMurphy is a character that forever be immortal in literature and what he represents is more than a lot of characters could ever handle.

            Everybody knows Jack Nicholson. If you don’t, you might want to check out his filmography cause a legend doesn’t just go unknown by people. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has known one of the best film adaptation ever and Mr. Nicholson is the one who portrayed the protagonist. As if the book itself wasn’t a masterpiece alone, the film also manages to deliver an outstanding adaptation. Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched were certainly the top actor performances. This movie probably helped some of the cast members get picked to star in Batman movies to come. Isn’t it amazing how he went from Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) to Joker in Batman (1989)? He definitely deserved the role. Then there’s Danny DeVito who went from playing Martini to Penguin in Batman Returns (1992). Two lunatics from the Gotham universe straight outta One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. All that aside, this movie adaptation was an unbelievably amazing ride through a mental institution. Even though the movie didn’t exactly follow everything of it’s source material, it still managed to deliver its message — might I even say in a great manner. If you haven’t seen the movie, you definitely should check it.

            Don’t forget to share your thoughts on this novel/movie as well as like and follow us as we continue to provide you guys reviews to enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by clicking on this hyperlink!

My overall rating: ★★★★★/

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12 thoughts on “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  1. Man, you did again. Hahah great review. Gosh. Such a legend this book. Been waiting for someone to talk about it. Great pics too keep it up !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man ! Really appreciate the kind words ! Book is an amazing masterpiece, it deserves more spotlight in this blogging world filled with modern books ! Thanks again for checking out my review ! 😄



  2. THIS .WAS. AN. AMAZING. REAAAD! WOW. I could read your book right now. Tell me you wrote one AHH <3! I Never thought reading a review can be this enterntaining to the eyes I think I just fell in love with you through your reading :3 I LOVEE THIS BOOK and I agree on eveythaang you just said about the oppressors, the fact that we can't put Insanity into a grid, a box fit-all. WILL DEFINITELY COME BACK FOR MORE 🙂

    P.S: please delete the other comment I made a mistake , so people dont see my email thank you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m truly honored that you might want to read a book from me, sadly I don’t have one ! You might also have to refrain on that love part before my girlfriend finds you, she’ll end up devouring you. 😱 However, we’d be happy to see you around on our future posts ! Thank you again for checking out the review. The book is definitely a fine piece of gold !

      – Lashaan


    1. The book had a lot more to offer than the movie, that’s for sure. I loved the book so much ! The movie was still a pretty good adaptation especially thanks to the actors performances. I have to admit that a lot – and I mean A LOT – of books are better than movies on several levels. You just got to find the right cast, the right director and a good script adaptation to make the movie work ! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

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