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Macbeth and Cuckoo's Nest: Frightening Females

Introduction to the Texts
About the Ladies
Manipulation and Emasculation
Important Quotes
In the End

Important Quotes

Quotes in Macbeth:

Macbeth says of his wife: "undaunted mettle should compose/ Nothing but males." (I, vii, 73-74).
He notices his wife's unnatural, unwomanly strength and ambition, and he feels that only men should have such power.

Lady Macbeth says: "...unsex me here,/ And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/ Of direst cruelty" (I, v, 41-44).
She is calling for the strength to cast away the guilt of the crime, and she realizes she needs to suppress all femininity in order to pull through.
She also says: "make thick my blood,/ stop up the access and passage to remorse."(I, v, 43-44).
and: "Come to my woman's breasts,/ And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers."(I, vii, 47-48).
She needs to suppress her femininity to chalk up the strength to conquer her conscience.

Quotes in Cuckoo's Nest:

McMurphy compares his first group therapy meeting on the ward as "a pecking party"(56).
Harding protests that Nurse Ratched is "not some kind of giant monster of the poultry clan, bent on sadistically pecking out our eyes."(56-57).
McMurphy replies: "No buddy, not that. She ain't pecking at your eyes. That's not what she's peckin' at... No, that nurse ain't some kinda monster chicken, buddy, what she is is a ball-cutter. I've seen a thousand of 'em, old and young, men and women. Seen 'em all over the country and in the homes- people who try to make you weak so they can get you to toe the line, to follow their rules, to live like they want you to. And the best way to do this, to get you to knuckle under, is to weaken you by gettin' you where it hurts the worst." (57).
Harding then acknowledges to McMurphy: "We are victims of a matriarchy here."(59).
They both know that Nurse Ratched is not a mother figure on the ward, but a dictator.

After McMurphy attacks Nurse Ratched and rips her uniform, her new uniform is "smaller and tighter... than her old uniforms" and "it could no longer conceal the fact that she was a woman."(268).
McMurphy has symbolically exposed her hyprocisy and deceit, and she is never able to regain power.

Adriana Daca, January 2006