One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a strange experience. From it’s confines you could witness true madness, but it wasn’t madness which terrified, it was a madness which evoked pity and empathy.
The Narrator of the story, Chief Bromden, was someone who had spent much of his adult life isolated and looked through, continuing to the extent that he started to pretend to himself that he didn’t exist. He acted both deaf and dumb while he was perfectly capable of speaking and hearing. His madness was primarily a sense of Paranoia which was perhaps justified from one who suffered not just one or two, but hundreds of electric shock treatments.
The Main Character, McMurphy, probably was incredibly mad, but he was madness perfectly capable of acting within the confines of complete sanity. He was a leader of a revolution. While it was saddening to see him dead at the end of the book, you can understand why Chief Bromden killed him in the manner he did, to retain his pride and prevent him from further suffering.
The maddest Character of all is Nurse Ratchett. She dishes out medicines and treatments which she would probably benefit from some herself. Her overbearing nature is not helping any of the men who are supposedly under her care and from the very first page you come to despise her and her cronies.
The whole book can, in some ways, be summarised in the words of the nurse on the disturbed ward, who voices her wish to keep the two men away from Nurse Ratchett’s control, but bemoans the fact that it is out of her power.
This story is at it’s heart one of hope. How goodness and human nature and resilience can grow and flourish when nurtured even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.