arlet Letter comparison compare contrast essaysFear in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Scarlet Letter To live with fear and not be overcome by it is the final test of maturity. This test has been “taken” by various literary characters. Chief Bromden in Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter both appear to have taken and passed this test. It first seemed as though the Chief was going to fail this test of maturity in the mental ward that he was committed to.
He had locked himself up by acting deaf and dumb. He had immense fear of the “Combine,” or society, that ruined things and people and treated them like machines, giving orders and controlling them. Soon enough to “save” the Chief, McMurphy arrived. He was lively, and not scared; the complete opposite of the Chief. This courage eventually passed on to the Chief. At a meeting, when McMurphy was holding a vote to prove that the patients wanted to see the World Series, the Chief voted for it. At first he said that McMurphy controlled his hand.
Later on he admitted that it was he who raised it. He even talked to McMurphy one night, and began laughing at the situation at hand. One day when McMurphy and the Chief tried to help another patient who was being taken advantage of by orderlies, they were caught and sentenced to electro-shock therapy (EST). The Chi usually blacked out in a fog when confronted with problems; however, this time (he had endured over 200 EST sessions previously) he did not. However, McMurphy was deteriorating, and the two seemed to be reversing positions. McMurphy eventually was sentenced to a lobotomy, which left him as a helpless, pathetic person, as the Chief had once been.
The Chief now had the courage to put McMurphy out of his misery, despite what the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, the symbol of the combine to the Chief, would do to him. He smothered McMurphy, and afterwards, escaped by lifting the control panel, which McMurphy told him that he could lift but the Chief saw himself as “small,” a symbol of his strength against the combine, and breaking a window with it. The mere fact that the Chief could lift the panel was proof that he had become “bigger,” even than McMurphy, who could not lift it. By confronting his fear and dealing with it, the Chief passed his test of maturity. Reverend Dimmesdale also lived in fear. Fear that one day he would be found out as the father of the child of Hester Prynne, and an adulterer.
If he was found out, he could not serve his purpose on this earth: Relaying God’s word to the people. He feared that if found out, he would be humiliated like Hester was. Also, he feared that Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, would take revenge upon him for corrupting her. Dimmesdale eventually faced his fears, and in front of the townspeople, he, Hester, and Pearl, their daughter, got up on the scaffolding that was used to punish Hester, and confessed to his crimes. He passed his test of maturity because he confronted the fear, and was not overcome by it, (although it almost did overcome him: His health was failing rapidly due to his guilty conscience). He knew that he would be humiliated, and that he was to leave town with Hester that very day, but he confessed anyway.
His confession shows his maturity and proves that he “passed” the test. A test of maturity is whether or not one is overcome by the fear they live with. The Chief and Dimmesdale are two literary characters who lived in fear and overcame it.
Therefore, they both passed their test of maturity by doing so.