Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption Theme of Hope
At the end of the day, Shawshank is all about hope (which isn't quite the same thing as freedom.). Hope is what gets the prisoners in Shawshank through each day, many times as a direct result of Andy's warm demeanor and inspirational antics. Hope helps us look forward to the next day; it helps us find happiness. Hope is what drives Andy to try to gain his freedom; for him, freedom is the final product of decades of unwavering hope. It's hard for someone not to feel a little more hopeful in his or her life after reading this book. We're pretty sure that's exactly the effect King was going for.
Questions About Hope
- Why don't we ever learn whether or not Red reaches Andy in Mexico? What does that say about the nature of hope?
- What is it about a poster of a pretty girl that can give a prisoner so much hope? (Andy has an answer, but we want to hear you come up with some of your own.)
- How does Andy give Red hope throughout the story?
- Why does Warden Norton want to destroy Andy's hope? What will that do to Andy that bars and walls can't?
Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
Andy escapes when he loses hope.
Andy's escape is an expression of hope, rather than a reaction to its loss.
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It’s right there in the title, after all. If you miss how The Shawshank Redemption is about the possibility for redemption, no matter the person and the no matter the sin, then you simply were not paying attention. The most important element of the movie’s theme of redemption may be easily be overlooked or not fully appreciated. It is not enough to suggest that Andy achieves redemption because, as indicated, that should be obvious. Keep in mind that Andy sin is not equitable with the crime for which he is convicted. Therefore, Andy does not enjoy mere judicial redemption like some other characters; his is truly spiritual in nature because penance required for expiation seems distinctly unfair and over-the-top to relate merely to criminal action. That tough stretch require to achieve redemption is significant as well; salvation usually does not and should not come easily.
Andy never gives up hope of attaining freedom. He hopes to achieve it through legal means, but is more than willing to attain freedom on his own terms should the system continue to fail him. The system does fail him and that failure is an easy place to lose something as precious and fragile as hope. Andy never allows this to happen. The film suggests that keeping hope alive means not merely sitting back as a participant who waiting for hope to arrive. In order to maintain hope in the face of overwhelmingly unlikely odds, one must become an active agent. Hope, in other words, should not take the shape of an implausible fantasy, but a conceivable goal.
The single most iconic image from The Shawshank Redemption shows Andy, having finally made his way through the tunnel he’s been working on for decades, sliding through the drain pipe into the stream below, running away from the immediate danger, ripping off his shirt and then standing there with arms outstretched and head tilted back looking toward the sky as the freedom literally rains down upon him. The threat of capture and re-imprisonment is still palpable and the possibility of a million different things undoing all that he’s worked so hard to achieve cannot help but be running through his mind. Despite this, Andy cannot help but stop to take the time to relish the first taste of unencumbered freedom he has enjoyed in decades. It is a reminder of how precious a gift the freedom most of us enjoy really is and how quickly and without any seeming justice or logic it could be taken away.
Brooks, when his parole is announced, is so desperate to stay in the prison that he almost cuts the throat of Heywood. The identity crisis that Brooks is about to face once he is out of THE prison is what forces him to do such an act in spite of him being a respectable and reasonable man. As Red says in the film, Brooks has spent 50 years of his life in the prison and he is an important man here. But outside he is nothing. He has no identity, no respect and no position. He just becomes one among the billions. The fear of being no one and losing the identity that he enjoyed in the prison are the reasons for Brooks’ strange act
Andy is a man of courage and this courage is what makes him capable of taking the biggest risk. In spite of having an idea about what would happen if gets caught, Andy finds the courage to make a tunnel through his prison wall. His courage and determination to take risk is what makes him unique from other prisoners who have simply accepted their fate. Andy’s courage is also expressed in a scene where he plays music through the loudspeaker which proves as an overwhelming experience for the prisoners.
Destiny plays an important part in man’s life. Andy is no different. Even though he did not commit any crime, circumstances unfold in such a way that he is found guilty. It is unfortunate that circumstantial evidences were against him and he could not save himself from imprisonment. Thus destiny has a big part in how Andy ended up in prison.
The relationship between Red and Andy is admirable and inspiring. Their friendship in the prison is special as prisons are usually notorious for rivalry, fights and violence. They develop a mutual respect and love for each other over the years they have spent together. They find a true companion in each other. Living a secluded life in prison, this companionship serves as the source of comfort and solace for both of them. Their conversations with each other become the most important parts of the film. Andy’s letter to Red shows the depth of their friendship. The two lonely men become the source of support and affection for each other
Death is a devastating theme in the film. We witness two deaths- suicide of Brooks and death of Tommy. Brooks out of loneliness and depression in this fast-paced world commits suicide. Tommy is killed by the Warden as he is willing to testify Andy’s innocence. Warden used Andy to manage his own fake accounts and losing Andy can be one of the worst things that can happen to him. In order to save his own money and reputation, Warden shoots the young and vibrant, Tommy.
Prison life is a life of routine. You are forced to do certain things at particular points of time. After years you become so used to the routine you followed that you become depended on them. When Andy comes out in parole and gets a job in a shop, he is shown as asking permission to go to the washroom. Owner asks him not to take permission every time he wants to go to the washroom. But this is what he used to. Andy says, “40 years I have been asking permission to piss. I can’t squeeze a drop without say-so.” He became so depended on the routine in prison that his mind and body functions according that routine
It is true that some people commit crime in that one moment of extreme anger or passion. The good side in them always regrets the crime they did. They find themselves caught in an extraordinary situation of complication and confusion. They become nostalgic about their good times and lament over the beautiful and happy life they missed. Red’s lines-“we sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of our own houses. We were the lord of all creation”- expresses this deep lament and regret.