The Shawshank Redemption is an inspiring story about Andy Dufreine and his efforts to maintain hope in horrible situations. The directors used many effective methods that displayed signs of hope in such a horrible place. Andy maintained hope by distracting his mind and always staying occupied. Andy was also inspired to survive by helping others find hope in life.
The creators of this movie used several effective, and often subtle, methods to illustrate the hope found in Andy and his surroundings.
Andy was always portrayed as a clean-cut and well-groomed prisoner with his shirt always buttoned and his hair always combed. This self-respect was in great contrast to the other prisoners who were portrayed as dirty, stereotypical prisoners. The common prisoners also had vocabularies and grammar that were far inferior to Andy’s. The distinctions between Andy and the common prisoners showed that Andy was different, those differences were that he had hope.
Many scenes involved ironic contrasts between the tone and the surroundings.
On several occasions the background music was cheerful and upbeat while the physical settings and scenery were terribly dark, dreary and depressing. One good example of this is the scene where Andy was helping the guards with their taxes. There was upbeat and cheerful music but the room and the surroundings were dark and gloomy. This hint of happiness represents how Andy’s hope was unexpectedly surviving inside the prison walls.
Andy distracted himself from his life in prison by staying occupied with physical and mental activities.
The first distraction for Andy was the rock hammer, which allowed him to keep physically occupied. The rock hammer allowed Andy to stay optimistic about returning to a normal life by reminding him how life was on the outside. The rock hammer was also very important and symbolic in Andy’s escape. His escape was portrayed as glorious and represented the final result of keeping hope.
Andy was assigned to the library, which built up to the largest events in his pursuit of hope. He was presented with the opportunity to help the guards with financial advising and filling out tax forms, which virtually removed Andy from the prison life and let him operate almost completely as if he were at his old job. His job allowed him gain the respect of the guards, which relieved some of the awfulness of prison life. Andy’s attempt to enlarge and develop the library was another distractions for him. His constant letter writing to request funds for expanding the library took some of Andy’s time and allowed him to focus his mind on things other than prison.
After his years of requests were finally answered with books and eventually annual funds Andy and Red were presented with the full time job of maintaining the new, huge library. These new responsibilities were key in making their lives bearable and in lessening the difficulties of prison. The actual receiving of the books and funds also inspired the men and gave every prisoner hope of overcoming the gloom of prison.
Dufreine encouraged his fellow inmates to sustain their hope in an attempt to help him to protect his own hope. Andy put himself into risky positions to benefit his group of friends. When Andy got the head guard to bring his friends beers while working on the roof he was faced with a threat of injury or even death. Andy felt it was well worth the risk to be able to see his fellow “co-workers” smile and relax. Red said that it was a wonderful thing “just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.” The guards laughed at the use of the term “co-workers” by Andy, but it is an excellent example of Andy’s subliminal thoughts of hope and his optimistic view of the awful circumstances he was in. Andy also suffered consequences for his pursuit of hope when he played the music over the speakers.
His actions not only made him feel good but also allowed the other men to “feel normal again.” Andy helped several prisoners gain their high school diplomas while in prison. This not only allowed Andy to feel great about himself and what he was accomplishing but it also permitted the men he was helping to have hope for a better life when they get out.
Hope was the only thing the prisoners had to survive on and Andy was the key factor of stimulating hope. Andy was a great inspiration in this movie that was shown by the directors and editors with several very effective methods. This was a great movie that showed the optimistic and positive things that can be done in the face of horrible situations.