One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a tragedy because Randle McMurphy is a tragic hero. As a typical Shakespearean tragic hero, tragedy focuses mostly on one person which is McMurphy in this case. Usually a Shakespearean tragic hero has the ability to affect the welfare of a whole nation or empire, but McMurphy is followed by other patients which gives him some degree of power. The tragic fate of the hero is triggered by the flaw in his personality: he involves with girls at a young age, he is impulsive and is too ignorant and overly confidant. These are the traits that led to the tragic ending. From the very beginning, McMurphy is sent to a prison farm because he is convicted of sexually assaulting underage female. Later, he is transferred to a mental institution to avoid labor work because he thinks he can serve the rest of his sentence in a more relaxed place.
He starts to fight against the fight against the asylum and the leader Nurse Ratched. Although he keeps receiving warnings from other patients, his arrogance blinds him from seeing his own weakness. At the ending of the movie, he is planning to escape but decides against it because he is worried about Billy Bibbit, one of the closest patients he befriended. The death of Billy Bibbit is the main reason for his mistakes: McMurphy cannot repress his anger and impulse and therefore is forced to have neurotic treatment which takes away the ability to think, and is suffocated to death by his friend at the end.
A tragedy involves one of exceptional calamity, the element of abnormal conditions of minds and an unexpected outcome of the plan contrasted with previous happiness which ultimately leads to their own destruction. The movie One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a tragedy based of the suffering of patients at the asylum and the effort made by Randle McMurphy trying to fight against the authority has predestined the downfall of this tragic hero. The constant warning from the Chief also foreshadows his disastrous fate. The tragedy begins by McMurphy disguising himself as a mad man in order to be sent to psychiatric ward for the purpose of avoiding labor work.
Nurse Ratched is the antagonist in the story who controls the whole mental hospital and gives patients unpleasant treatments that sometimes employs subtle humiliation. The death of Billy Bibbit is the unexpected cause that leads to the death of the hero. Unfortunately for the tragic hero, his plan does not materialize as he may have hoped. The plan to overthrow the authorized system and escape the asylum turns into action but has failed miserably. After the night of Christmas, Bibbit is found inappropriately undressed with a girl. He suffered a mental break down because of the shameful insult from the Nurse and committed suicide afterwards. Compare with the glory everyone feels for Bibbit just moments before, his death is so astonishing that McMurphy could not repress his impulse to strangle the Nurse. After that, his action ultimately leads him to be taken to the lobotomy and be stripped away his spirit and part of his brain.
In conclusion, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a tragedy and Randle McMurphy is the tragic hero. The power that came from other patients gives him the qualification to make him a tragic hero, along with other typical traits of Shakespearean tragic hero. In addition, the plot has the component of tragedy plot. The story introduces the unusual state of the mind; the plans have failed due to the unpredictable causes and are lead to a tragic end eventually.