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Analysis of Shawshank Redemption Essay

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The movie of the Shawshank Redemption is based on a short story by
Steven King. The movie shows how prison life affects prisoners during
their sentence in jail and after when they are released. The director
concentrates mostly on the personal cost of adapting to prison life
and how some convicts, once they conform, lose the ability to survive
beyond the barbed wire and iron bars. As a character puts it, ‘These
[prison] walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to
them, then you start to depend on them.’ The director shows us to what
extent prisoners can be made to ‘depend on them’. The two episodes
that I will analyse are examples of two different ‘paths’ prisoners
can take once released from prison. One is to survive and live their
life, another is to give up and end it. In the movie Red, a prisoner
at Shawshank says, ‘get busy living or get busy dying’. This quote
plays an important role in the movie because Red and Brooks, two
important characters who get out of jail have to make the choice to
either ‘get busy living or get busy dying’.

Red and Brooks are characters with many similar traits and have gone
through many of the same circumstances. Both entered the confines of
Shawshank Prison youths but left its walls as old men. They have seen
many prisoners come in and out. They spent decades behind the dull
enclosure and got used to it. They have adapted themselves to the
concepts of routine, forced conformity, power abuse and have lost all
elements of individuality within themselves. Red says “you come here
for your life and that’s exactly what they take from you”.

The episodes of the release of both men contri...


... middle of paper ...


...ds hug, the camera
pulls back, revealing the wide, distant horizon of the blue Pacific
with no end in sight. No longer are the Red and Andy confined by walls
and iron bars nor watched on by guards. Both are free.

Brooks had attained the limits at prison, he had become
institutionalised and once released had found the only way out was
death. Red, on the other hand, had hoped, and hope had led him to
freedom, to happiness, to redemption.

Through the themes and the cinematic decisions applied in these two
episodes the director has made these vital to the understanding of the
movie. He has given two examples of the extreme situations to which
prisoners go depending on their emotions. One of the emotions is yet
one of the main themes of the movie, hope, and in my opinion it has
been brought up extremely effectively.


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