Let The punishment Fit the Crime Essay

This essay has a total of 970 words and 4 pages.

Let The punishment Fit the Crime



Sir William Schwenk Gilbert stated in the first act of The Mikado “Let the punishment fit
the crime.” In society punishments are given to make people suffer for their wrong
doings. Is it fair that when man breaks rules but only in the name of righteousness that
he be punished? In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, the author
skillfully portrays man as one who suffers for breaking the rules, while trying to stand
up for his beliefs and inspire others.

One may suffer as a consequence of breaking the rules, but he will suffer unfairly if he
were only breaking them to stand up for his beliefs. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,
Nurse Ratched constantly caused the inmates to endure unfair suffering when they broke the
rules, even if they were breaking them to stand up for their beliefs. On the evening of
the world series game, the inmates led by McMurphy held a vote so they could watch the
game. The deciding vote was not submitted in time because “the meeting was closed”
according to the Nurse. McMurphy rebelled against this unfair decision by skipping his
chores and sitting there “with his hands crossed behind his head and his feet stuck out in
a chair, a smoking cigarette sticking out from under his hatbrim - watching the blank TV
screen.”(p. 127). The Nurse believed this showed “unspeakable behavior concerning [his]
house duties” and she felt that her punishment of “taking away a privilege” (p. 171) had
“therapeutic value” (p. 171). What the Nurse was really doing was punishing this man for
standing up for himself. McMurphy suffers as a result of his courage to take a stand
against the Nurse’s unfair ruling. McMurphy rebels against the system by breaking Nurse
Ratched’s rules and laying down his own. To me this sounds like a leader trying to make a
difference not a man who deserves punishment. In like manner, the Jews were unnecessarily
punished for standing up for their religious beliefs. I believe this to be an unjust act,
even though it has been ever present throughout history.

The nurse’s domineering attitude and ideas of punishing men unfairly, worsen throughout
the novel. One afternoon in the shower room “[the inmates] lined up nude against the
tile...” at first “everyone was laughing and kidding” (p. 227) until one of the black
boys tried to pick a fight with George. This angered McMurphy and he felt obliged to
stick up for George. The fighting started up between McMurphy and Washington when
McMurphy yelled out “you Goddamned mother*censored*ing niger”. (p. 229). This comment
started a vicious battle between the inmates led by McMurphy against the black boys.
Later on “The Big Nurse [talked] to McMurphy, soft and patient, about the irresponsible
thing he did, the childish thing, throwing a tantrum like a little boy”. The Nurse then
explained that “at a special group meeting... the staff [thought] it might be beneficial
that he receive some shock therapy”(p. 235). I think this type of treatment is horrible,
shock therapy should be illegal, not a punishment given to a man who stood up for his
peers. Even though McMurphy believed “[his] skull’s too thick for them to hurt [him]”(p.
237), shock therapy is very harmful to one’s brain.

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