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Ken Kesey’s masterpiece novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest uses many themes, symbols, and imagery to illustrate the reality of the lives of a group of mental patients. The element of control is a central, arguably the largest, and the most important theme in the novel. The element of control revolves around the two main characters of the novel, Randle P. McMurphy, and Nurse Ratched. These two characters are the exact antithesis of each other, and they both seek to get their own way. They both realize that in order to get their own way, they must gain control over their rival and the ward. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched have different methods of attaining and using what control they have. They have different motives for seeking control over others. They also have different perceptions of the amount of control they possess. Throughout the novel, these two characters engulf themselves in an epic struggle for the most control. This struggle for control proves to be futile for both characters as they watch what control they thought had collapse like a house of cards. The element of control in Cuckoo’s Nest contains a certain definition. Control as it applies to the characters in Cuckoo’s Nest means that one character has substantial influence over the actions of another character. This control can influence another character’s attitudes, emotions, reactions, or even how they live their day-to-day life. The character of Chief Bromden provides an excellent example of how strong an influence control has over a character in Cuckoo’s Nest. The Chief has multiple delusions in which he imagines society as a dreadful machine he calls ‘The Combine’. The Chief believes The Combine uses several machines (Nurse Ratched being one of the most powerful) to make people conform to its idea of order. One machine that The Chief mentions frequently is the ‘Fog Machine’, which creates fog that confuses...

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