Cuckoo_s Nest - Ginsberg poem

Aim: How can we reflect on the
definition of madness given to us in
the novel?
Do Now: What do you think about Ken Kesey’s assertion
that Nurse Ratched is not the villain?
“She’s not the villain. She might be the minion of the
villain, but she’s really just a big old tough ex-army nurse
who is trying to do the best she can according to the rules
that she has been given. She worked for the villain and
believed in the villain, but she ain’t the villain.”
– Ken Kesey
• “...modern man no longer communicates with the madman
[...] There is no common language: or rather, it no longer
exists; the constitution of madness as mental illness, at the
end of the eighteenth century, bears witness to a rupture in
a dialogue, gives the separation as already enacted, and
expels from the memory all those imperfect words, of no
fixed syntax, spoken falteringly, in which the exchange
between madness and reason was carried out. The
language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason
about madness, could only have come into existence in
such a silence.:
• Foucault, Preface to the 1961 edition of History of Madness.
• With reference to Foucault’s quote, what has One Flew
Over the Cuckoo’s Nest provided that was missing?
The Construction of Madness
• Even in our work with “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the
issue of madness and whether or not one is truly
insane comes into question when we look at the role of
society and the perception of those around us.
• Let’s take the following statement: Society forms its
own definition of madness.
• If the ward is its own mini-society, a microcosm of the
larger society, what definiton of madness has it
On Burrough’s Work by Allen Ginsberg
The method must be purest meat
and no symbolic dressing,
actual visions & actual prisons
as seen then and now.
Prisons and visions presented
with rare descriptions
corresponding exactly to those
of Alcatraz and Rose.
A naked lunch is natural to us,
we eat reality sandwiches.
But allegories are so much lettuce.
Don't hide the madness.
In what way is this poem ironic?
• Which line of Ginsberg’s poem
contains its thesis?
• What statement is Ginsberg
making of the depiction of madness
and imprisonment?
• Ginsberg was referring to his
friend, William Burrough’s, writing.
However, how does this poem
connect to the novel, One Flew
Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
• Is it fair to suggest that the ward is
really a prison? Are they all?
Much Madness is Divinest Sense
By: Emily Dickinson
Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –
• Discerning – having or showing good judgment
• Starkest – complete, sheer
• Assent – the expression of approval or agreement
• Demur – raise doubt or objections or show reluctance
Essay Assignment
Write a well-developed, 5-paragraph essay discussing the definition
of madness as revealed through Emily Dicksinson’s poem, “Much
Madness is Divinest Sense”, Allen Ginsberg’s “On Burrough’s Work,”
and Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Your thesis statement should clearly define the definition of madness
as you have seen it defined through the 3 works. You should then
use each work to reinforce that thesis statement.
Note: This will count as an exam grade. You are to write this essay in
class. You will have 1 day (Friday) to prepare by taking notes on the
poems and preparing quotes from the novel. You will then have 2 full
class days (Monday & Wednesday) to write out your essay and hand it
in at the end of class on Wednesday, November 3.

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