The Shawshank Redemption


The Shawshank Redemption is a very unique movie which involves many different personalities and underlying themes. The personalities of the inmates are very interesting and when they are combined they create a very fascinating plot which looks at prison life in a interesting and different perspective than one normally thinks. The main characters are Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) and Eliss "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman). These characters are well complimented by the wise and simple old man, Brooks (James Whitmore), and the evil warden. The personalities of the Shawshank prison combined to form a sort of community. One never really thinks of a prison as such, but it seems to hold true. This movie showed a prison not only as a place where murderers and thieves live, but as a community of people who have had problems and may or may not be rehabilitating. It seems that some prisoners go in and accept what they have done and try to make something of an already disastrous life while others give up and really don’t care if they commit other crimes (inside and outside of the prison). But in all reality, the prison was home for the inmates and they made it into what it was. The demeanor of the characters creates a very unique atmosphere.
The story revolves around Andy who is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover in 1946 and is sentenced to life in prison. He is sent to the Shawshank prison, the state prison in Maine which is known for its harshness.
At the beginning of the movie, one does not know if Andy committed the horrible crime of murder. But what is known is that he is not ready for prison and honestly doesn’t seem like a man who would survive. His thinking going in is just to survive and blend in. He knows that sticking out would not be good for him. Throughout the movie, Andy undergoes several changes in his personality. But overall, he seems like a wise man who will deal with what the justice system has served him. He is normal on the outside but seems full of emotion. His emotional side is best put by the 4/14/95 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle which reads, "…Dufrense, a soft-spoken banker with emotions bubbling under the surface." Andy is a very complex character but one can see that he holds his feelings inside of him and tries not to let people know how he feels.
Andy’s friendship with Red begins in a peculiar way because neither of them have anything in common. Andy asks for a rock hammer which Red gets for him. Red, knowing that Andy is vulnerable, gets him on the tar duty and seems to take him under his wing. The friendship is very unique and they both are very energetic with emotion. Bill Dupre of the News and Observer writes of their emotion together, "This is a graceful, quiet characterization, and Robbins’ scenes with Freeman are wrought with depth, delicacy, and precision."
This is where the opportunistic side of Andy begins to be evident. After overhearing the guards talking, he almost risks his life to tell the guard that he will help him keep the $30,000 that he inherited. This shows that Andy had guts and that he wanted to survive. In return for his favor of helping the guard, he gets his fellow workers ice cold beers on the last day. It is ironic because he has quit drinking himself. Andy then begins to work in the library because the warden hears of his talents in finance. This is where Andy first meets Brooks. He use this opportunity to ask the state for more money to build a larger library. And finally, the way Andy escapes is almost genius. Knowing that he is on the good side of the warden, he devises a very interesting and successful plan of escape.
Overall, Andy blends in with the prison community through the good times and the bad (the sisters, a group of homosexual rapists). His personality is one of a person who makes the most of what he has. But he never loses hope that he will be free one day.
Red is a very unique