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October 2022

Mythic conformity in the cuckoo's nest

Author(s): Lawrence, John S.

Journal/Book: Psychocultural Review. 1977; 1: 68-76.

Abstract: The American superhero myth is examined in popular Academy Award-winning movies, focusing on Randle Patrick McMurphy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976). Despite a seemingly radical image and innovative heroics, McMurphy conforms to the American monomythic hero whose personal maturation is secondary to his task of community redemption. Unlikely parallels to McMurphy are found in Walt Disney's Old Yeller (1957) and the characterization of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965). McMurphy as rogue, redeemer, and therapist satisfies the American cultural hunger for violent, restorative fantasies, as in earlier myths of The Lone Ranger and Superman. Academy Awards are seen as public ritual certifications that reward innovative conformity to a cultural myth. (15 ref)

Note: conformity to cultural myth; character of R. P. McMurphy of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

Keyword(s): Motion pictures entertainment; culture anthropological; social values; myths


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