Word Count: 376A hero is considered to be any man noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose; especially, one who has risked or sacrificed his life. This describes one of the main characters in the highly acclaimed novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey. Randle McMurphy is the hero of this novel because he stood firmly against oppressive powers, showing courage and ultimately paying with his life. There were no heroes on the psychiatric ward before McMurphy’s arrival. Nurse Ratched wielded supreme power. No single patient had the ability to stand against the injustices to which they were subjected.
McMurphy united these patients. He gave them collective courage and a sense that they could resist their persecutor. For example, Harding states, “No one’s ever dared to come out and say it before, but there’s not a man among us that doesn’t think it. That doesn’t feel just as you do about her and the whole business-feel it somewhere down deep in his scared little soul.” Not only did McMurphy unite his friends, the patients; but he understood the enemy, the staff. He recognized the ultimate authority and oppressive power of those in charge of the psychiatric ward. He also knew that to resist them would put himself at great personnel risk.
McMurphy, however, took the risk and defended his fellow patients. For example, McMurphy says to the black boy who is harassing George, “I said that’s enough buddy.” McMurphy knew this confrontation would have harsh consequences, but he took the chance. In fact McMurphy took one too many chances.
This hero’s end comes when he lashes out at nurse Ratched, blaming her for the death of Billy Bibbit. McMurphy demonstrated his feeling for Billy by his emotional reaction to his death, “First Charles Cheswick and now William Bibbit! I hope you’re finally satisfied. Playing with human lives-gambling with human lives-as if you thought yourself to be God!” This outburst results in McMurphy having a lobotomy and later dying. In conclusion, Randle McMurphy lost his life courageously defending the other patients. McMurphy had several chances to save himself, but chose instead to stay and help his fellow patients.
McMurphy is a true hero and his acts of bravery and selfless behavior prove this.