Why Nurse Ratched Was One of the Best Female Movie Characters Ever

Why Nurse Ratched Was One of the Best Female Movie Characters Ever

Why Nurse Ratched Was One of the Best Female Movie Characters Ever

Characters like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the kind of character that really only has one definition. She’s a bully. She’s also one of the best characters to ever be created and the reasoning behind this statement is very clear. As the main antagonist in the movie she’s the only character that’s firmly placed as the bad guy. The orderlies and other administrators are of course complicit in the goings on at the Salem State Hospital, but they turn a blind eye because Ratched gets results and keeps the peace and quiet through her many despicable methods. The reason why she’s one of the best female characters ever is that she’s basically the basis for every ironclad, heavy-handed nurse in any film from then on. She becomes the archetype for what the head nurse should be and often is in many TV shows and movies that feature a head nurse.

Thankfully this role can be positive or negative according to how the director wants to portray the character. Despite being one of the absolute meanest characters in the story Nurse Ratched provided a very compelling look at what can and has happened in many an institution throughout history. Her heavy-handed ways with people made her an obvious bully in the film and left viewers absolutely hating her as she bulled her way through one situation after another.

Shame and ridicule were her weapons and she used them very well, but when it came to McMurphy she found that she couldn’t use the same type of offense that has had against the other patients so easily. With that in mind she ramped up her efforts continually until she finally had McMurphy lobotomized, thereby sealing his fate and assertin her dominance once again. The only thing is, that didn’t seal the deal.

Once a bully is called out in any way the chances of regaining that former power that they had over someone is usually long gone. If even one person stands up to them and shows that they can ruffle that tough exterior then it shows other people that they’re human, and thus very fallible. The administrators left Ratched alone because she knew how to cow and control the patients so that there were no incidents and no problems. But when McMurphy decided to pose as a problem that she couldn’t easily get rid of then her power base began to wane. Once that happens, any bully feels the pressure as they must do something drastic to keep the power they enjoy so much from slipping away.

In Nurse Ratched’s case the margin for error was much smaller than she thought. As soon as McMurphy started to challenge her rule in front of the other patients she had a small chance of regaining her power base. But when he continued to fight her authority it became kind of obvious that she had run out of maneuvers and had no other option to eliminate him entirely.

Once he was gone she breathed a sigh of relief, but it lasted only so long as it took the other patients to realize that she was no longer the boss she thought she was.


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