Jesus McMurphy

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a messianic story paralleling the life of Christ as an everyman named R.P McMurphy. It hit me the other day as I was surfing through channels and found it on IFC. McMurphy is a kind of a fraud who finagles his way out of prison and into the nut hut only to become the savior of every man in there and the bane of the nurse in charge. McMurphy is the messiah of these men, reminding them of their humanity and dignity despite their mental challenges. Nurse Ratchet is the pharisees keeping close the keys to the kingdom by forcing the patients into her dogma. The patients are McMurphy’s disciples, and the indian his Judas Iscariot, who ultimately martyrs him. 

It’s odd to me that Judas Iscariot is not a more sympathetic character in Christianity. After all, if it weren’t for him, Jesus would not have died on the cross for the sins of the world, no? And Judas had to make the hard choice (or maybe Christ ordered him to make that choice, knowing that he must be martyred to affect change) to betray Christ. For his sacrifice, he dies alone, hung from a tree with his entrails hanging out. 

What does it say about a faith that is so quick to find villains, yet preach tolerability and love? Where is the forgiveness for Judas in this story? And don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning religion, though I myself am an atheist, I’m just trying to find some logic within that framework. Judas should be celebrated as a martyr beside Christ. Christ died in agony on the cross, but Judas had to live with the stigma of betrayal and the blood of Christ on his hands, possibly knowing it was the only way to accomplish Christ’s goals.

Yet another figure that vaguely appears in OFOTCN, that of Pontious Pilate in the form of Dr. Spivey (the actor Dr. Dean Brooks was actually a psychiatrist at the institution where the movie was filmed). Forced not by some hatred or fear of Christ, but rather bound by the desires of the Pharisees (Nurse Ratchet; the staff at the institution) to keep order over the patients. Like Pilate, Spivey almost admires McMurphy and wishes him no real harm. Pilate offered to crucify a known rapist and murderer in Christ’s place, but the Pharisees would not have it and swayed him to crucify Christ. 

This is all fairly loose, but it came to me and I could not deny the parallels. 


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