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The general nonlinear behavior of multiple cascaded resonators is analyzed by using the coupled-mode theory in time and then compared to a single resonator from the viewpoint of optical bistable operation. Our analysis reveals that from the perspective of switching intensity, the multiple resonator structure is more advantageous than the single resonator with an equivalently increasing quality factor. It is also shown that a switching intensity-response time product, suggested as a performance metric for optical bistable devices, decreases linearly as the number of cascaded resonators increases. The effect of coupling n resonators is equivalent to a single resonator device with n-time increased quality factor in terms of the performance metric. The coupled-mode theory analysis is confirmed by a numerical study of the bistable operation of one-dimensional photonic crystal resonator structures using the finite-difference time-domain method.