Free Essays – The Scarlet Letter and Cuckoo’s Nest

comparison compare contrast essaysThe Scarlet Letter and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: What Makes Up A Work Of Literature
A work of literature may be defined as a classic because it
promotes deep insight into human behavior. Both The Scarlet Letter, by
Nathaniel Hawthorne, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey give
a reader a complete understanding of what is going on inside of the heads
of the characters. This insight into the characters can be used as a
general insight into human behavior. One insight is that a person’s
physical abilities can be controlled by their mental awareness and stat e
of being. Another is that they see themselves in relation to those around

In The Scarlet Letter, a reader is presented with the feelings of
Chillingworth, Hester’s (the main character) husband, and Dimmesdale
(Hester’s partner in adultry), as they are destroyed mentally as well as
physically. Chillingworth is afraid of being dishonored by being known as
the husband of a whore. He also wants revenge on Dimmesdale for corrupting
Hester. His thoughts are read by the reader, and his actions represent the
fiendish ways that have overcome him. The way he torment s Dimmesdale is
seen when he acts as his physician. Chillingworth knows that Dimmesdale
was the father of Pearl, Hester’s daughter. But he wants to torment and
take revenge on the Reverend Dimmesdale, who suddenly became sick.
Chillingworth uses his knowledge of the human mind and of medicine to
deduce that Dimmesdale’s sickness lay not in his body, but in his mind: He
was holding a secret, a deep, dark, secret, that was destroying him. By
asking Dimmesdale if he were hiding something, Chillingworth angered
Dimmesdale and tried to torment him. This insight into human behavior,
that one’s physical attributes can be determined by a mental condition,
makes The Scarlet Letter a classic.

Ken Kesey gives an excellent insight into human behavior in One
Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in a similar way to that in The Scarlet
Letter. Through Chief Bromden, a patient at the mental ward, Kesey shows
how one sees him/herself in relatio n to others and how the way that he/she
sees him/herself can affect his/her physical abilities. The Chief had
thought that he was “small,” despite the fact that he was six feet seven
inches tall. He felt that because he was controlled by the “combin e,” or
the society around him, and because he could not do anything about it that
he was inferior to those who did and/or tried to. When a new patient,
McMurphy, was admitted, the Chief saw him as a big man because he stood up
to the authorities. H owever, McMurphy was much shorter than the Chief and
had a much smaller build. As the book progressed, McMurphy tried to
convince the patients that he could lift a huge control panel and throw it
out a window to escape. He tried, and failed. He al so tried to convince
the Chief to try to lift it; McMurphy knew that the Chief could, but
because the Chief saw himself as inferior, he could not. Nearer to the end
of the novel, the Chief realized that he was growing “bigger” again – he
was regain ing his previous size from the courage that McMurphy had given
him. However, McMurphy had been “shrinking,” falling under the control of
the Combine. The final blow was when Nurse Ratched ordered a lobotomy on
McMurphy. From then on he was as smal l as ever to the Chief. The Chief,
however, now realized that he himself was bigger than ever; he put
McMurphy out of his misery by smothering him, and lifted the huge control
panel that he was previously convinced he could not. He threw it throug h
the window and escaped. Ken Kesey may have realized that people sometimes
seem different because of the power or freedom that they hold. He may have
known that they saw themselves only relative to others around them. It is
possible that he expre ssed these ideas in his book, using the Chief and
McMurphy as his subjects in the situations previously described.

If a work of literature shows deep insight into human behavior, as
do The Scarlet Letter and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, then that work
can be considered a classic, as Hawthorne’s and Kesey’s are. The major
insight in common is that bot h authors realized that mental and physical
conditions are interrelated and depend upon each other. Also, Kesey showed
how a person sees things in perspective to things around him or her.