“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”: Novel and Film Analysis


Before we can go ahead to identify or choose three scenes or conventions contained in the movie which have been adopted from the novel that seems or portray a different picture of what is the actual representation in the book, it will be imperative for us to, first of all, have a brief overview about the basis or the main storyline of the novel. The novel “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is an interesting novel as commended by most of the readers and reviewers, it’s a novel written by Ken Kesey. The author’s main objective or aim as it is enshrined in the vivid portrayer of his ideals in the book was based on individuals suffering from mental disorders and how they are treated when taken to psychiatric homes. It portrays a perfect picture of an atmosphere of insanity, as the story goes on and on one at some point is entertained, as he is still basking in that euphoria of excitement; he is driven into a solemn mood. The book and the movies, in general, give its guest a trite. While

The film as it stands is believed by many to be one of the most interesting movies to have come out of America, though many analysts believe some of the details in the book have been lost in the process of creating a visual picture of the novel. The greatness of the movie cannot be underestimated.

Hospital Scene

One of the scenes which were involved or staged in the movie that a form of deviation is noticed was that the hospital, at the hospital one of the key actors that took part in the movie (Randle Patrick McMurphy) was known to be a lawbreaker, a repeat offender, a malefactor, a backslider, and a hardened armed robber who as a result of his involvement in forcing a girl to have canal knowledge of her, was caught and convicted. A verdict was then rendered on him in the law court, which earned him short-term imprisonment. Because of his behavior in the prison, he was then moved to the psychiatric hospital for a cross-examination. The reason behind his transfer from the prison to the mental hospital was for the diagnostic of his condition, but on known to the authorities, he only acted insane so that his movement or exclusion will save him the labor that accompanied his jail term.

In the hospital, he was placed in a ward that was controlled by a nurse known to be cool but in reality, was somebody who doesn’t listen to other people’s advice and whose decisions were always final. The nurse being a tyrant, usually rendered punishments to stubborn patients of the ward in the name of treatment and as a result succeeded in suppressing those on her black list. The law-breaking patient, Mcmurphy discovered that the patients in his apartment, instead of positioning their minds on how they could get well, rather developed a fear for the tyrant nurse in charge of their ward. As a result of this situation, McMurphy now got to make friends with the patients in the ward. One of the patients by the name Chief was somebody who was not considered by the other patients in the ward but was most feared by other patients because of his appearance in which McMurphy wasn’t an exclusion. In an attempt to get the attention of the tyrant nurse, McMurphy developed some strategies in which he could use to get her. They developed the habit of betting for cigarettes, the habit was stopped when the cigarettes were destroyed by the nurse on one fateful day.

Deviations from the Novel

There are a good number of deviations from the novel contained in the movie relating to this particular scene, the most prominent been that , the basic idea behind the narration was shifted since it was concentrated solely between McMurphy the nurse in-charge of their ward, while the novel focused on many patients in the hospital.

.Fishing Trip Scene

In an attempt at enhancing his self-esteem, self-confidence, drive, assurance, optimism, and determination in his ward, he arranged for a fishing trip at the river, this was successfully executed as their intension was achieved by escaping the psychiatric home and taking the hospitals vehicle without the consent of the of authority or management of the hospital. On return from the fishing trip, he came to discover that, the nurse in-charge of their ward had the ability of bestowing unto him a commitment that is involuntary on an indefinite base as the more compassionate and considerate patient. After knowing this, he then blamed the rest of his colleague for not letting him aware of this fact, since the rest of them were committed on voluntary bases. Because of the incidence that took place i.e. the fishing trip at the river, the nurse in-charge of their ward grewed annoyed and intensifies more effort in view of trying to stop the un-bearing behavior put on by McMurphy.

Because of this strategy put on by the nurse ,McMurphy and two other patients were later imprisoned as a result of their involvement in a physical body combat with the authority, after the nurse had just suppressing them. While one the detained patient was undergoing medical test, McMurphy and other patient waited outside in the waiting room, waiting for their own time. While sited, McMurphy gave to the other patient the bubble gum he was chew and the guy excitedly collected it. McMurphy was very surprised since this was the patient that was neglected by the other patient and considered to be deaf but most feared because of his size, now speaking. Mcmurphy now realized that chief was always aware of his plans but stays quiet so as not to be noticed. On realizing this, he now had a lot of confidence in the chief and doing things in common, they also discuss their plans together. After they have arrived from the laboratory after the test, he announces publicly to his colleague that the test carried out in of trying to suppress him was unsuccessful, he now feels very confident in the ward since he had found someone strong and brave enough to assist him in carrying out his activities.

Deviations from the novel

In this scene, it can also be inferred that there are a lot of deviations, take for instance, in the movie, they stated that McMurphy took the hospitals vehicle without the authorities consent and went for the party whereas in the novel, it was written that, the usage of the vehicle for the party was an arrangement made with the authority.

Overnight Party Scene

On one fateful night, McMurphy escaped and went into the office of the nurse in-charge of their ward and called some of the patients. He had in his possession alcoholic drinks that he brought to hospital. His entrance into the ward was made possible through the window, after tipping the security man to allow them express themselves. On creation of this avenue, they partied together, while the party was going on two among the patients found their way to a different location. After the party had come to an end, McMurphy and chief, sneaked out of the party through the window alongside with some ladies. McMurphy went to bid farewell to the rest of patients and ask one of the patient to come along with him, but the patient on whom he called refused, his refusal was personal and not known to them.

McMurphy now persuaded the reluctant patient into doing what he intended to stay back and do, despite the fact that he hadn’t the potentials of performing the required task. On the following morning, the nurse in-charge of the ward came to work and met all that had happened the previous night. Because of the unpleasant situation she found, she grew annoyed and gave orders that, those taking care of the hospital should make sure every place was kept clean and attendance be taking for all the patients counting head by head.Two among the patients were found naked and as a result , all the patients plunged into laughter. The nurse admonished and discipline him and ask him if he wasnt ashamed of his character, and he gallantly replied that he was not. The nurse made it clear to everyone that she was going to bring every of the boys act to the mums notice. The boy now became afraid and his speech disorder condition surfaced. After been rushed to the doctors room for treatment, he decided to commit suicide by gashing his throat.Mcmurphy who had the thought that the nurse had to be blamed for the boy’s death ,strangled her until he was taking away or disengaged at the eleventh hour.

When everybody had settled, the patients were found again betting for cigarette as usual, but at this point in time, McMurphy was not with them. Since he was someone whom was well noticed, his absence was felt and others started saying may be he had escaped out of the hospital not knowing that he was taken upstairs, as a result of his absence, the nurse who was just recovering from the injury she sustained on the neck, was compelled to use a public address system and talk so that she can be heard by all the patients in the hospital in her ward. McMurphy was later accompanied back to his bed, at this point in time ,they thought he was to going to escape since he now feels he is above everybody, but rather he was found to be lobotomized ;Chief who seem to be his close friend doesn’t want other patients to see him in that kind of situation. He then decided to suffocate him to death. Chief now decided to execute McMurphy’s plan of escape by jumping through the window with the aid of the hydrotherapy console and running far away from the premises of the hospital.

Deviations from the novel

In the novel, details were given about why the chief relates so well with mcmurphy while such details were omitted in the movie.


By comparing the movie and the novel in general, it can be said that, both the novel and movie were awarded for their excellent works. Therefore, stating categorically that one supersedes will be an understatement.

However it will be important to state that for the movie it was actually a big hit going by the numerous positive reviews it received from the industries critics. Roger Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize winner acknowledged that the movie by Forman is so interesting that one is blinded by some of the loopholes within. Notwithstanding the positive remarks he said there were certain areas in the film that could have been done in a better way. One of the points he pointed out was that at certain stages in the film, there were unnecessary exaggerations which the producer of the movie wouldn’t have gone that far to make his point. This he further clarified by saying such exaggerations are so dominant that the human character is totally misplaced in its significance. The greatness of the movie is illustrated or demonstrated in the number of awards it worn that year. Another great fit achieved by this film is its selection by the library of congress to be preserved in the NFR (National Film Registry).

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