Nurse Mildred Ratched is the main antagonist of the 1962 book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and its 1975 film adaptation. She is the strict, mean, callous, steely and coldhearted nurse at the mental institution that she works and directs.
In the 1975 film, she was portrayed by Louise Fletcher.
Role in the film Edit
Being head nurse, Ratched has control over medication, therapy, hygiene, recreation, among others. Her superiors esteem her for being one of the best nurses in the facility. Ratched is a firm believer in keeping people orderly, and will revoke any privileges they might have if they act out of line in any way. She keeps the patients in line by using their mental weaknesses, and encourages other patient to act is informants for her so that she can use sensitive information against a patient as she sees fit.
When a criminal named R.P. McMurphy arrives to the ward, he begins to disobey Ratched's schedule and tries his best to annoy and meddle her. As McMurphy's disorder persists, she uses treatment almost as punishments for acting out.
McMurphy arranges a party with alcohol and prostitutes as a way of saying goodbye since he plans on escaping the facility. The next morning, Nurse Ratched eject these intruders and finds one patient, Billy Bibbit, sleeping with a prostitute. The depressed and cowardly Billy is now confident and stands up to Nurse Ratched who tries to sham him for having sex with a prostitute. She uses Billy Bibbit's intense fear of his mother as a tactic for returning him to submission and also as punishment.
Distraught that Ratched will tell his mother about this encounter, Billy commits suicide. Nurse Pilbow informs Ratched of this, and she immediately tells the patients to return to their schedule, since that's the best thing to do. McMurphy in a fit of rage throttles Ratched, almost choking her to death. Ratched survives and has to wear a neck brace, while McMurphy is beaten and lobotomized.
Nurse Ratched's influence over her patients is reduced and they no longer fear her. Her voice becomes much softer, and the last thing we see of her is her kindly congratulating a patient on a successful procedure. It is currently unknown if she got punished for her actions.