Kenneth Elton "Ken" Kesey (//; September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001) was an American author, best known for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and as a countercultural figure who considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. "I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie," Kesey said in a 1999 interview with Robert K. Elder.
Randle Patrick "Mac" McMurphy, known as R.P. McMurphy, is a fictional character and the protagonist of Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He appears in the play and film adaptation of the novel as well. Jack Nicholson portrayed Randle Patrick McMurphy in the film adaption, earning him an Academy Award for Best Actor. He is nominated on the "Heroes" list of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, but did not make the final list.]citation needed[ He was ranked by Empire as the 61st Greatest Movie Character of All Time.
Richard Gray, author of A History of American Literature, said that McMurphy is an "authentic American rebel", an urban cowboy, plain-speaking, hard-living, a gambler and a risk-taker," and "the hero" of the story. Gray explained that the "[s]waggering" "bold" character has "an incorrigible sense of humor" and "offers the inmates the example of chance and independence." Gray argued that in the novel, McMurphy is "likened to heroes such as Superman."
Nurse Mildred Ratched (also known as "Big Nurse") is a fictional character and the main antagonist of Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as well as the 1975 film. A cold, heartless tyrant, Nurse Ratched has become the stereotype of the nurse as a battleaxe. She has also become a popular metaphor for the corrupting influence of power and authority in bureaucracies such as the mental institution in which the novel is set.