In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, I think Nurse Ratched is more powerful. In most situations, she seems to know what she's doing even though it may not be with the best of intentions. MrMurphy always tries to break her down and to get her to change the rules, but she doesn't fall for it. For example, there is a conflict between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy when he tries to get the volume of the radio turned down."There are old men here who couldn't hear the radio at all if it were lower, old fellows who simply aren't capable of reading, or working puzzles-or playing cards to win other men's cigarettes. Old fellows like Matterson and Kittling, that music coming from the loudspeaker is all they have. And you want to take that away from them. We like to hear suggestions and requests whenever we can, but I think you might at least give some thought to others before you make your requests" (Kesey 106). Even when McMurphy suggests something as simple as turning down the volume, Nurse Ratched comes up with an explanation to why he shouldn't rwquest something like that, because he needs to think of other people besides himself. Nurse Ratched always has a reason for why she says no to McMurphy and she's very consistent with it, so that's why she's the more powerful one.
But even though she's more powerful, it seems as if McMurphy is more therapeutic to the men. The men know that Nurse Ratched is powerful and wants to control every aspect of their life, that's why McMurphy comes up with ways to bring her down. All the schemes he comes up with give the men a sense of hope that they can all bring her down together. "Just what I said: any of you sharpies here willing to take my five bucks that says I can get the best of that woman-beofre the week's up-without her getting the best of me? One week, and if I don'thave her to where she don't know whether to shit or go blind, the bet is yours" (Kesey 72). McMurphy and the guys always scheme and make bets to see who can break the nurse. In a way. McMurphy has brainwashed them into thinking she's a horrible person, so it's therapeutic for them to make bets and behave this way.