All across the U. S. books have been banned for countless reasons. Some of the greatest novels have been flagged for inappropriate content, or offensive scenes. Some of these bans have no credibility, however the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is different. The story follow the rebellious actions of McMurphy narrated through Chief Bromden, as they take on the psychiatric hospital’s head nurse, Mrs. Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has many satisfactory elements, however it is truly a book that deserves to be banned.
While One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest does a great job exploring mental illness, the book should not be taught in schools, as it strongly promotes behavioral issues and sets a negative role model for students. Foremost, it should be noted that books have a great deal of influence over the reader. Books have significant aspects such as plots, conflicts, and character development that readers come to recognize and understand as they read. These aforementioned aspects often convey the author’s thoughts, or attempt to explain a compelling topic. It should be noted though, that not all lessons have a positive effect.
In an academic journal on living and leaving fictional worlds, Cristina V. Burns writes, “reader’s experiences in literary worlds should and will carry over into their ordinary living” (Burns 352). The unsettling truth that lessons from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest “should and will” affect readers is why the book should be banned. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has many unfavorable lessons to teach, from the characters to the conflict. The characters in the book are vulgar and disruptive, and the conflict follows the story of the disruption of a psychiatric hospital.
It would be unacceptable for students to acquire the traits that are demonstrated in the book. If the book was to not be taught in schools, it would allow for students to study strong character building novels instead. Ultimately, the only way to restrict students from developing these most undesirable characteristics is to ban the book. While books in general have an immense influence over the reader, it is the characters that influence the reader the most. Readers generally connect more with the characters than the plot of a story. Characters are the brushes that are used to paint a book.
The more important characters leave a larger impact on the book and reader. In a study from Ohio State University it was discovered that, “When you “lose yourself” inside the world of a fictional character while reading a story, you may actually end up changing your own behavior and thoughts to match that of the character” (Grabmeire 1). The actions and aspects of fictional characters can alter those of students exposed to books. In the case of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it would be objectionable to force students to study a personality altering book.
The characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest have tendencies and behavior issues that would indefinitely affect students. As a result of the influence of fictional characters on a reader, the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should not be taught. Fore it would be unreasonable to force students to inherit poor characteristics. With the fact that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest could negatively influence students, it should be noted that the main characters display negative characteristics such as deceitfulness, and disruption. The main characters of a book are generally the most important aspects of a book.
These characters are what the readers will watch, understand, and learn about. However the characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest have few positive characteristics, and promote negative actions, such as aggressive and disruptive behavior. In the book, Miss Ratched, the head nurse of a psychiatric hospital, describes a primary character, McMurphy, as a “Manipulator”, someone who manipulates for “Comfort and an easy life, the feeling of power and respect, monetary gain [or] simply the actual disruption of the ward for the sake of disruption” (Kesey 44).
McMurphy is simply said to be someone who will trick others for his own benefit. Not only is McMurphy directly identified as being a negative influence, but there is much more to be interpreted from his history of gambling, violence, and insanity. A main character who is self centered, manipulative, and disruptive is not a positive influence to be teaching. However, being a main character, students would be greatly exposed to McMurphy’s character flaws.
Through understanding the characters, it should be noted that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should not be taught in schools, because of the imbalance of important teachable aspects in the book to the negative influences the characters have over the readers. In addition to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest promoting disruption, it also moralizes behavioral issues. It is believed by Mental Health America that 1 in 5 adults have a mental disorder such as ADHD or Bipolar. Behavior and mental disorder affect millions, and are meant to be treated as any other disease would be.
These issues can have serious impacts on students. In an academic journal on the peer problems in children certain behavior issues, it was emphasized that “children with inattentive-impulsive-overactive behaviors, including attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder, and children with oppositional defiant disorder experience higher rates of peer rejection, isolation, loneliness, and fewer friendships” (Andrade 2183). The fact that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest represents behavioral issues as not being an issue is problematic. Studies show there are many complications with such illnesses.
Further troubling is the fact that the setting is a psychiatric hospital that does very little in the form of aiding the patients. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should not be taught in schools, because it desensitizes student to the the illnesses that are behavioral issues. In addition to desensitizing students, the book may imbue students to act out, as they expect positive outcomes from their experience of the book. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should truly be banned as to stop students from attempting to replicate the actions in the book, and to halt the desensitization of behavioral issues.
While a book may have numerous reasons as to why it should be banned, activists of freedom of speech will argue bans are a violation of the freedom of speech. A complete ban of a book would be a violation of one’s freedom of speech, however it is not just to expose students to themes explored by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In a document titled Library Censorship is lustified it was stated. “There is no reason why people of color should have to tolerate the existence of Ku Klux Klan literature or other racist materials in a library funded with their tax money…
Just because material is constitutionally protected does not mean its existence in a library is justified” (Stephens 1). This banning of books in libraries also applies to schools. Students who’s tax money is used to fund the school should not be forced to be exposed to any material they deem offensive. While Americans are guaranteed the freedom of speech, they are also guaranteed the right to no unjust form of torture, in this case the compulsory learning of offensive material.
While it is important to uphold the freedom of speech it is more ethically relevant to ban One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as not to offend those who pay to be educated the way they wish to be. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredible piece of literature, however students should not be taught it in schools, as it negatively influences students’ characteristics and lightheartedly discusses mental disorders. Book have had, and always will have a large impact on reader, however the characters have just as important of a role.
If One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest did a better job of discussing the issues that are mental disorders, it would be acceptable. However, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest falls short, and only depicts an adventure in a psychiatric hospital. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should truly be banned, as not to force anyone to learn from this offensive source of material. No one should ever be forced to experience they deem truly offensive or objectionable. It may seem like one’s freedom is being limited by banning books, however man will truly be free when he is not forced against his will to interpret that which is abhorred.