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Shawshank Redemption Movie Theme Analysis

Frank Darabont directed an American Christian film titled “Shawshank Redemption” set in America in 1947. Frank Darabont depicts the protagonist under the name of Andy Dufrense was a banker convicted with two life sentences back to back for the murder of his wife and her secret lover, so he was imprisoned in Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine. Frank Darabont makes it crystal clear through the film fear can make you a prisoner, and that hope can set you free. In the film, all the characters in the film, it is only Andy who does not let Shawshank get the better of him. Andy demonstrates hope, while his inmates show fear amongst themselves in conflicted trials, and together the theme of friendship is shown in “Shawshank Redemption.”

In “Shawshank Redemption” Frank Darabont shows us the theme of hope one out of the three main ideas. Frank Darabont depicts Andy Dufrense as a prisoner who is driven by his powerful sense of hope, unlike his fellow inmates. Andy Dufrense came to Shawshank prison as an innocent outsider refusing to give up hope, he even gave reminders to his inmates about the outside world, or he made them feel hope by feeling free for example Andy played beautiful music through the speakers. Andy even made sure beers were given to his fellow prisoners hoping they also have hope of being free. Nevertheless, Andy’s hope was driven by his innocence; however, when the Warden erased all evidence of Andy’s innocence by the death of Tommy it was then Andy who appeared to feel low after the end of Tommy, later Andy returns to his cell, and it seems as if he is going to commit suicide due to the fact he had asked Heywood for a “6-foot rope”, and he was sitting and looking at the rope he had received, the next shot the unexpected occurs. The next scene leaves Warden completely shocked as Andy was not found nor dead but finds Andy’s escape route, throughout the film, Andy demonstrates hope repeatedly as Andy’s heart had no room for self-doubt, Andy had hope. If it wasn’t for Andy’s hope he would not have crawled through the crap, started digging his escape entrance and let alone think about his escape plan; Andy’s whole escape was all relied on Andy’s hope of escaping. Therefore, it makes it very evident that hope can set you free and hope is one of the main themes in “Shawshank Redemption.”

Shawshank Redemption Movie Theme Analysis

Frank Darabont shows us numerous times in “Shawshank Redemption” fear is the second main theme. Frank Darabont portrays the inmates of those who have fear entering society again; it was Brooks Hatlen who mainly showed fear as Brooks was sentenced for 50 years, which his crime was never revealed in the film. Still, due to the fact it was 50 years, Brooks was sentenced for from 1905 to 1955, which indicates Brooks was convicted for murder. Fear is highly obvious when Floyd rushes to Andy and Red while they are sitting in front of the library on the staircase and uttered “Red Andy its Brooks” Floyd, Red and Andy rushed to Brooks who had a knife to Floyd’s neck which he began to bleed; Andy manages to calm Brooks down, but Brooks was anxious and upset, Brooks only had one way to extend his imprisonment which was to kill Heywood Brooks was scared and frightened from the outside world as Brooks over the 50 years had adjusted to living in prison and does not remember how the outside world works. Furthermore, Brooks was very distraught and did not want to leave the prison; it was like he was accustomed to Shawshank State Penitentiary and was terrified of the outside world. When Brooks left the prison sad music is played as Brooks looks outside the prison very worried and clueless, in the next scene Brooks is on the bus sitting by himself while the sorrowful music is still playing the camera zooms to Brooks’s face to show the fear he has for the outside world; Brooks even latches on to the bar in front of him which symbolises the cells of Shawshank State Penitentiary as that was the only place Brooks wanted to be as he was so accustomed to Shawshank. It is highly evident that fear is the central theme of “Shawshank Redemption”, and that fear can make you a prisoner.

Frank Darabont makes it very apparent that friendship is another central theme in “Shawshank Redemption” without a doubt. Frank Darabont represents the theme of friendship through Andy Dufrense and his fellow prisoners however it is Andy Dufrense and Ellis Boyd “Red” who had the most durable friendship bond as they have been friends for nearly 20 years since 1947 ever since Andy first arrived at Shawshank. This is without a doubt a fact throughout the film we see Andy and Red helping each other multiple times an example is when Andy approached Red while he was playing baseball, Andy introduced himself by saying “I’m Andy Dufresne” and into the conversation, Red says to Andy “You’re gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent”, and it is then when Andy Dufrense told Red “I wonder if you can get me a rock-hammer” Ellis Boyd “Red” agrees and Andy thanks Red and so Red looks at Andy. Red introduces himself to Andy by telling him “Red names Red” this is where their friendship had begun. Therefore, friendship is again shown in the film between Andy and Red as they discuss the outside world while sitting against the cobblestone wall, Andy talks about going to his dream home which is in Zihuatanejo a city in Mexico, Andy then stands up and leaves, but Red calls out “Andy”, and Andy walks towards Red. He then asks Red for a favour which Andy then says “Promise me, Red, if you ever get out” after Andy describes a location in Maine hayfield he described an object he wants Red to obtain which Andy says “At the base of the wall, you will find a rock that has no earthly business in Maine hayfields” their friendship becomes stronger as Andy asks for a favour and Red committees on doing the favour from Andy. Friendship is apparent in “Shawshank Redemption” at the end of the film while Red narrates about his friend Andy Dufrense as Red is proud of Andy’s steadfastness and cleverness, however, Red is also sad as he does not want to lose a nearly 20-year-old friendship, this is evident when Red narrated “Sometimes it makes me sad though Andy being gone.” Red genuinely misses his companion his best pal as it was Andy who helped him through the thin and thick at the end of the film while Red is still narrating Red which he then says “I guess I just miss my friend” in this scene it appears Red to be working outside the prison what seems to be a graveyard due to the tombstones being shown; it is then Red who looks up to the skies and thinks about his best friend Andy, even further into the film we find Red’s rehabilitation being approved. Red then goes to the location Andy favoured him to go to, Red finds the rock and finds a letter which is narrated by Andy “I can use a good man… Remember hope is a good thing” and some cash was left in a yellow envelope by Andy it is the next scene we see Andy on the shores cleaning a boat which he then sees Red completing his promise, and then as we see they both hug as the camera slowly zooms out. Thus it is very see through the theme of friendship is one of the three main themes in “Shawshank Redemption.”


In conclusion, we find that “Shawshank Redemption” is made up of three major themes such as hope, fear and friendship. Hope is shown when Andy tries to bring a free feeling to his fellow prisoners; fear is clear when the prisoners don’t want to go back to society and friendship is evident when Andy and his inmates help each other out. Andy may have been sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary. Still, it was Andy’s hope that leads him to be free unlike some of his inmates they had fear and restricted themselves, and all together friendship was shown through the character which conveys the message “fear can set you a prisoner and hope can set your free”.

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