Institutions Essay

Institutions are found in almost all aspects of our lives, whether in the form of family, schooling, friendships and so on. They are an essential and natural occurrence that provides both positive and negative functions in life. Depending on the motivation or reason behind their formation, they can function in many different ways. In the novel “Raw” written by Scott Monk, and the play “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, institutions are hugely evident and crucial to the progression of the two stories and their respective characters. Institutions themselves are in effect from the moment you become part of society. In society, moral ideas, knowledge and modes of behaviour are transferred from one generation to another through the medium of institution. The purpose of these institutions is to replace erratic, harmful and unaccepted behaviours, to expected, systematic and regular behaviour through the institutions. Institutions play a key role in the novel “Raw” as the main character is forced to undergo rehabilitation at a “farm” like correctional institution for troubled youth. In “Raw” we live through the eyes of Brett, the main character, as he battles with the institutional social behaviours being drilled into him as he desperately clings to his “Bad-kid” independent social status. “Monk” uses a lot of techniques, themes and colloquial language to create a life-like and realistic portrayal of modern characters. In the third chapter of “Raw”, Brett is alone in the dormitory after just arriving at the farm. He is sneaking around the other rooms looking for cash or anything else of some worth. Quote “…there was other expensive stuff but he had to leave it because it would be too hard to stash…” This quote shows Brett’s prior experience in theft and his utter lack of morals or ethics in relation to people’s belongings. Morals and ethics are taught to most people as children by their parents in the form of an institution of family. This disregard for others property reveals that Brett may have had a rough childhood and poor relationship with his parents growing up, resulting in his attitudes. Brett uses a lot of slang terms such as “loot” and “pigs”. Monk uses these terms to establish Brett’s character and set his context. On page 14 of the novel, there is an exchange between Sam (the “Warden” of the Farm) and the police officers that bring Brett to the farm. The cops are shown to be distinctly negative in their attitudes towards Brett which is most prominently reflected in their speech, While Sam is very accepting in his dealings with Brett.

This Juxtaposition of attitudes towards Brett shows the individual experiences of institutions in an individual. Brett is also seen to use short sentences and constant monosyllabic words. This adds impact and power to his statements reflecting his need to be in control. Monk frequently uses “active verbs” throughout “Raw” which is used to engage the reader, creating pace and tension in the reader. “The Farm” as an institution is expressed as a very positive experience and genuinely tries to reintegrate these troubled young people back into society as model citizens. Another story that emphasises the effects of institutions is the play, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” written by Dale Wasserman. This play details the experience of several patients in a mental institution and the way the institution actively shapes their mental conditions and social standings. The purpose of a mental institution is to help patients get past their mental conditions and reintegrate them into as a part of society. In the play there is no attempt made at helping the patients past their issues or reintegrating them. Instead you’ll find the head nurse Miss Ratched (in charge of the rehabilitation) actively tries to disrupt the patient’s mental restoration, preferring instead to slowly drain her patient’s sense of humanity from them through a very mechanical routine in which all patients are reliant on her. This system changes however with introduction of R.P McMurphy. Mr McMurphy is a convicted felon who was charged with 6 months on a work farm. After being diagnosed as a psychopath he did not complain as he thought it would be more pleasant then the work farm.

As he is not actually insane, McMurphy see’s right through Miss Ratched nature as a bit of a dictator. From the patient’s point of view, Miss Ratched is their “mother who gave up her life to help them”, while McMurphy proves them wrong and uses his time at the Institution to actively disrupt Miss Ratched’s control. The play itself uses a lot of colloquial language found in most 90’s Television shows or other forms of media. Mr McMurphy frequently speaks this way which portrays his character as a fun and wild person. The characters use metaphors in this play themselves. An example of this is when McMurphy is explaining to the group of patient’s that Miss Ratched was picking them apart, stating they were “A bunch of chooks at a pecking party”. The two distinct differences between the institutions in “Raw” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” are what their objective was. “The Farm” in the novel “Raw” was actively trying to rehabilitate young people and give them a second chance at creating a better life. They did this by giving them a healthy environment around people who are all similar in their reasons for being there, and under the guidance of Sam they all slowly mature and develop into respectable people. The institution in the play is solely negative in their results in the patients rehab as the head nurse is actively stunting their development preferring instead to maintain power and control over her flock. Institutions are positive and negative depending on the individual experience and how we are affected by the outside world and its people.