The Shawshank Redemption is both a wonderful film and a brilliantly written short story. There are many themes represented in each form of The Shawshank Redemption. The one major theme that interests me in both the film and the story is freedom. Freedom serves a large purpose for both the story’s writer and the filmmaker. Both use similar examples to signify freedom, not only in the jail, but also in a larger context about life.
There are many events and examples in both the film and the short story that signifies freedom.
One example that occurs in both the film and the short story which involves freedom is when Andy Dufresne approaches the narrator, Red. Andy asks Red, “I wonder if you could get me a rock- hammer.”(28) Andy’s reason for wanting a rock-hammer is because he was “a rockhound. At least… I was a rockhound. In my old life.”(29) Andy states that he would like to be a rockhound again on a limited basis because it gives him the feeling of freedom.
This example serves the purposes of both the story’s writer and the filmmaker. The act of Andy Dufresne being able to go on “Sunday expeditions”(29) at Shawshank shows the reader and/or viewer that it will make him feel free, like when he collected rocks in his old life.
On a larger level, this event could be interpreted as a lesson to not give up your freedom. Even though something bad happens to you, you should not become secluded and be depressed all of the time.
Andy shows the reader that you must “get busy living or get busy dying” or you will loose your inner freedom.
Another event that occurred in both the film and the story is when Andy Dufresne got beer for all of the crew that tarred the prison’s roof. In this example, even Red stated that the break “lasted twenty minutes, the beer-break, and for those twenty minutes we felt like free men.”(48) Red recalls that the crew felt such freedom that they “could have been drinking beer and tarring the roof of one of our own houses.”(48)
This example serves the purposes of both the story’s writer and the filmmaker because it shows the reader and/or viewer that this event happened because Andy wanted himself and his ‘co-workers’ to feel freedom. This event occurred because he made business dealings with “the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at the Shawshank State Prison”. (48) Andy was always known to have something different to him, “a sense of his own worth, maybe, or a feeling that he would be the winner in the end… or maybe it was only a sense of freedom”(48) which Andy could even manage to possess inside the prison. Andy always carried an “inner light”(48) inside of him, an inner light that burned for the dream of freedom. Andy got the beer for all his crew because he wanted the crew to have a sense of freedom also.
On a larger level, this event could be interpreted as a lesson to feel free under any circumstances. It can be interpreted as meaning that no matter what you do in your life, rewards at the end of your mission, will make the task sweeter to achieve. If you follow Andy’s examples on a larger level, you will always carry “an inner light.”(48)
There is an example which occurs in the film that differs from the example in the short story. Although these two examples differ, there interpretations are very similar in context. In the film, Andy Dufresne got access of the prison’s loudspeaker and played a brief amount of classical music. In the short amount of time the music played, silence overcame the prison. Red stated that even though the music had not lasted long, “every con in the prison felt free,” even if it was just for a moment. This example serves the purposes of both the story’s writer and the filmmaker because it shows the reader/viewer that the music gave the cons in the prison a sense of freedom, even if it was just for a fleeting moment.
Although Andy never played any music on the loudspeaker in the short story, there was still a small presence of music. In the story, Andy was telling Red that when he gets out of prison, he is “going to go where it’s warm all of the time.”(74) Andy then tells Red that the name of the place that he wants to go to is called Zihuatanejo. In the short story, Andy is to have said Zihuatanejo “rolling the word softly from his tongue like music”. (74) This example serves the purposes of both the story’s writer and the filmmaker because it shows the reader and/or viewer since music is representing freedom in the interpretation, and Zihuatanejo sounds like music to the ears, Zihuatanejo represents freedom. In the short story, Zihuatanejo is Andy’s freedom from the memories of being captive in prison for so many years, and dealing with all of the emotional distress. “They say it has no memory. And that’s where I want to finish out my life, Red. In a warm place that has no memory.”(75)
In conclusion, I believe that one major theme that is of great importance throughout both the film and the short story is freedom. Freedom serves a large purpose for both the story’s writer and the filmmaker. Even though the majority of the examples are the same in both forms, the example that is different still holds a similar interpretation and lesson about not only prison but also the larger context of life.