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Male, Female and beyond Gender - Essay Example

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Male, Female, and Beyond Gender: An Analysis of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” True to its setting, Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest presents a chaotic portrayal of our society as a world of madness, where gender is stereotyped to assign specific roles and grant us individual characters, such that men and women are expected to adhere to their respective “masculine” and “feminine” nature…
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Download file to see previous pages As such, this paper aims to present the ongoing transformation of gender roles in our present-day society as characterized in Kesey’s novel. It intends to show that the reverse portrayal of gender roles in the book is a foreseeable possibility based on what is happening in our society, where gender rights movement is currently gaining ground. At the time of its publication in the 1960s, the book serves as a reaction to the civil rights and second wave feminist movement occurring all over America. Alongside these social movements is the propagation of drug culture in the country. According to Prancl (2004), the novel is best understood if comparison will be made between the society’s attitude on sexuality in the 1960s and today. To present this, the traditional roles of both men and women will first be presented, with reference to the characters in the novel. Then, the reversal of these gender roles will be depicted through societal observations of the current gender and sexual liberation movements. Through this depiction, we will be able to understand the predictive ideas that the author is trying to convey in the novel. I. Traditional Gender Role of Women in the Book  Women, as characterized in the novel, are seen in two broad categories: either as cold and manipulating females or dumb and naive ladies. The big nurse, known as Ms. Ratched, represents those who are mean and unsympathetic to the plight of male characters in the ward. On the other hand, the easygoing girls like Candy and Sandy, embodies those who are easily manipulated by men like McMurphy. These types of characters present two extreme views of women – stereotyping them as mean and easy. In the novel, Ms. Ratched, Mrs. Bibbit, and Vera Harding are characterized as “ball cutters” who emasculate men through manipulation of power. Mrs. Harding’s way of belittling her husband’s sexuality reveals his utmost weakness which motivated him to finally submit himself in a mental facility. Mrs. Bibbit exerts her power over his son Billy by preventing him to grow up and eventually turning him over to Ms. Ratched, the head nurse at the Oregon asylum facility. Ultimately, nurse Ratched maintains her authority in the mental ward by suppressing the patient’s laughter and subjecting them to invasive psychiatric therapy whenever her authority is undermined. Interestingly, these negative portrayals of females who control the lives of man are not new. In fact, traditional societies have placed ‘caution’ on the power of women to tempt and trick men into destruction. The most prominent account of this story is the The Fall of Man which heavily influenced the historical shift to patriarchal society where women are placed in subordinate status to men. To pacify the ‘evil’ qualities of women, they are assigned to traditional roles in the house such as cooking, cleaning, sewing, and bearing children. Women are also deprived of their right to vote, to get an education, and participate in politics. In the novel, the dangers of women characters are explicitly personified in the lives of a nurse, mother, and wife. Meanwhile, the other perception of a female character is recognized as naive and easily manipulated by men. These women, who are treated as men’s sexual objects, are embodied in the character of Sandy and Candy who are McMurphy’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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