Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The purpose of this study is to approach two works from the literature of the 1960's from a psychoanalytic point of view: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. Both works contain a framework of illusion versus reality and a domineering, castrating woman, portrayed as "wolf," who causes the men whom she dominates to become weak, submissive, and impotent. The four sections of this study are an introduction containing aspects of psychoanalytic theory and symbolism relevant to the works, an explication of the drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , an explication of the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and a summary comparing and contrasting the two works. Martha, in Albee's play , is dissatisfied with her husband, George, because he does not measure up to the father toward whom she still feels an Oedipal attachment; because of George's failure, she projects him in to the role of a son in fantasy and drives him to impotence. Big Nurse, in Kesey's novel, dominates the patients in her charge as Martha dominates George; her position is challenged by the masculine vigor of McMurphy, who brings new vitality to many of the other patients although he himself is forced by Big Nurse to undergo the symbolic castration of a lobotomy.


Dr. Samuel J. Sackett

Date of Award

Summer 1970

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1970 Nadean W. Leonard


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