One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in a mental institution in the Pacific Northwest.

It tells the story of McMurphy, an energetic con man who seeks institutionalization as a means of

escaping the rigors of a prison work farm.

Chief Bromden narrates... a catatonic half-Indian man whom everybody thinks is deaf and dumb.

The institution is dominated by the oppressive Nurse Ratched, a cold, precise woman with calculated gestures and a calm, mechanical manner, who gains superiority and power by exposing the flaws of the inmates.

She is willingly assisted by her two sadistic day-shift orderlies, and a timid young nurse!

Her supposed superior, Doctor Spivey, observes.

The story is made up of series of skirmishes between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.

Before long, in order to reduce the sexual and emotional impotence of the patients, McMurphy begins to challenge the dictatorial Nurse Ratched, irrevocably altering the destiny of those in the ward.

He riles up seven complacent patients who once were unable to cope with the overwhelming pressures of the modern world, but now are inspired to rebel against the strict rules of the hospital and Nurse Ratched.

Eventually, after a series of incidents that lead to an episode of electroconvulsive therapy,

Nurse Ratched wins by convincing authorities to perform a lobotomy on McMurphy.

He is transformed into a smiling, compliant zombie.

At the end Chief Bromden frees McMurphy from his vegetable existence by smothering him with a pillow.

This tragicomic allegory will draw in the audience as the patients question authority and discover

their true identities and destinies.





Protagonist. R. P. McMurphy is a big gambler, a con man, and a backroom boxer. A manual laborer,

carnival barker and a Korean War hero with a dishonorable discharge! His body is heavily scarred and tattooed, and he has a fresh scar across the bridge of his nose. He was sentenced to six months at a prison work farm, and when he was diagnosed as psychotic he did not protest because he thought the hospital would be more comfortable than the work farm. McMurphy serves as the dominant force challenging the establishment, and the ultimate savior of the victimized patients. Really not insane, he transforms the ward by teaching the other inmates to question arbitrary and repressive authority.



A towering man of mixed Native American and white heritage! He is the son of the chief

of the Columbia Indians and a white woman. He is diagnosed as an incurable paranoid-schizophrenic,

and pretends to be deaf and mute in order to protect himself from the forces

of the Combine, which he believes is a mechanized society intent on usurping freedom and individuality.

He suffers from paranoia and hallucinations, has received multiple electroshock treatments, and has been in the hospital for ten years, longer than any other patient in the ward. Bromden sees modern society as a huge, oppressive conglomeration and the hospital as a place meant to fix people who do not conform. Bromden chronicles the story of the mental ward while developing his perceptual abilities

and regaining a sense of himself as an individual.

The Chief is gradually rehabilitated by McMurphy and emerges as the real protagonist at the conclusion.


An acerbic, effeminate, college-educated patient, who is psychologically "castrated" by his

sexy wife, and also by Nurse Ratched! President of the Patients’ Council, Harding is an ACUTE patient,

one who has voluntarily committed himself to the hospital, maybe because he has a difficult time dealing with the oppressive nature of society. Harding helps McMurphy understand the realities of the hospital.

His development and the reemergence of his individual self signal the success of McMurphy’s battle against Nurse Ratched.


A shy patient, Billy has a bad stutter and seems much younger than his thirty-one years.

His mother, one of Nurse Ratched’s close friends, dominates Billy to the extent that he is still unmarried and a virgin. Billy is a voluntarily committed ACUTE, as he is afraid of the outside world,

despite the fact that his wrists reveal a previous suicide attempt.


Martini lives in a world of delusional hallucinations, who, nonetheless, learns to laugh at himself and the world around him. Despite this, McMurphy includes him in the board and card games with the other patients.


The first patient to support McMurphy’s rebellion against Nurse Ratched’s power!


The only Acute besides McMurphy who was involuntarily committed to the hospital!

Scanlon has fantasies of blowing things up.


Another ACUTE turned to CHRONIC after receiving too much electroshock therapy and possibly

a botched lobotomy. Often stands in a posture of a crucifixion against the ward walls.



Antagonist. The "Big Nurse", and former Army Nurse.

The middle-aged head of the hospital ward, with her starched and sterile white uniform, she maintains order by exercising absolute authority over the hospital staff and its patients. She rules her ward with an iron hand and masks her humanity and femininity behind a stiff, patronizing facade.

She selects her staff for their submissiveness, and she weakens her patients through a psychologically manipulative program designed to destroy their self-esteem.

Ratched’s emasculating, mechanical ways slowly drain all traces of humanity from her patients.


The administrator of the mental institution, Dr. Spivey is a calm, mature, gray-haired intellect.

McMurphy plays up to Dr. Spivey, who expresses doubt that anything is wrong with McMurphy’s mind, although he defers to the opinion of Nurse Ratched, for whom he expresses the highest regard.

He often supports McMurphy’s unusual plans for the ward, such as holding a carnival.


A perpetually frightened and attractive young nurse.

She defends herself from perceived threats by McMurphy by protesting that she is a Catholic,

indicating her sense of guilt and fear of sex.


The hospital orderlies chosen by Nurse Ratched because of their hostility and strength!

They are filled with hatred and submit to her wishes completely.

They keep order on the ward mainly by threatening the patients and each other.


The nighttime orderly for Nurse Ratched’s ward. An elderly African-American who smokes marijuana! McMurphy bribes him to help throw the after-hours party in the ward. 



A beautiful, passive, carefree prostitute from Portland, Oregon, with a "heart

of gold."! She comes to the ward for a late-night party that McMurphy arranges,

and relieves Billy Bibbit of his virginity.


Another prostitute who knows McMurphy and is Candy's older and less-physically attractive friend.

She comes with her to the party on the ward.