This sample paper on Shawshank Redemption Characters offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.

Contrasts in characterisation are employed throughout Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption to explore key ideas, as well as fundamental themes of confinement, oppression, and sacrifice. Contrast in characterisation is plainly evident between the protagonists and antagonists of the respective texts, but perhaps more specifically in the contrast that occurs as each author develops their narrators; Kesey’s ‘Bromden’ and Darabont’s ‘Red’.

Both narrators experience a profound transformation, which becomes clear when contrasting their characters at the beginning to that of the end of the two texts.

Bromden’s mental illness is prominent within the first half of Kesey’s text, but towards the completion of the novel has transformed to a condition of psychological strength with a heightened appreciation for life.

Both authors rely heavily on their protagonists in order to provide the inspiration for this change. Kesey makes use of imagery and symbolism, to explore the idea that individuality is a powerful motivator. Darabont utilises a similar catalyst for change as well as repetition; yet as a visual text, he also employs light and sound effects to explore the idea that a leader is a provider of hope.

Shawshank Redemptions

Red is unwittingly influenced by protagonist Andy Dufresne. Prior to Dufresne’s arrival, Red is presented as both cynical and dry, an institutionalised man unwilling to waste energy on hope; yet finds ‘salvation from within’ in the closing stages of The Shawshank Redemption.

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Kesey and Darabont use contrasts to explore core themes and ideologies, whilst invoking the audience’s sense of independence and faith. In both texts, the narrators embody changes that gradually augment the reader’s understanding of the resultant effects of oppression.

Kesey’s narrator, Bromden, describes the oppression associated with ward life through the use of simile to depict its mechanical nature and lack of individuality. This absence of humanity is the philosophy of Nurse Ratched, a domineering antagonist intent on creating a pure and pallid world for the ‘treatment’ of her patients. ‘The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine…. ’ However, this routine of maintaining order is shattered upon protagonist, Randall McMurphy’s, committal to the ward.

This arrival of individuality instantly brings a vibrant atmosphere to the whitewashed walls of Ratched’s ward. A similar change is evident in The Shawshank Redemption where Darabont utilises voiceovers to convey Red’s initial perception of protagonist, Andy Dufresne, ‘He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn’t normal around here’. The transformation in both Bromden’s and Red’s character is not immediately apparent. Weeks pass before ‘the fog’, symbolic of Bromden’s mental illness begins to clear; and similarly Red remains fearful for years about the likely damage of false hope.

Darabont conveys Red’s aversion towards the notion of hope through the use of repetition, ‘Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea’. Kesey and Darabont both ensure that there is a prolonged contrast in the characterisation of their central characters, allowing the audience to appreciate the subtle but increasing influence over time that the two protagonists have on the narrators.

Darabont relies on the use of his narrator, Red, similar to Kesey’s use of Bromden; primarily to explore fundamental ideas and themes of confinement and sacrifice. The audience grapples with the cruel nature of confinement based on Red’s recounts of his and Dufresne’s experiences in Shawshank prison. Additionally, it is conceded by Darabont that Red’s blatant rejection of hope is indicative of Shawshank Prison’s institutionalising effect, ‘These walls are funny, first you hate them, then you start to get used to them.

Eventually it gets so you rely on them. That’s institutionalised. ’ Dufresne unintentionally influences Red’s change in persona, which is quite unlike McMurphy’s extroverted behaviour in Kesey’s novel, ‘Nobody’s sure if this barrel-chested man with the scar and the wild grin is play-acting or if he’s crazy enough to be just like he talks…’. Dufresne provides the inmates, but particularly Red, with hope through scenes where he sacrifices himself for the benefit of others; these include the roof tarring and phonograph incidents.

Bright lighting is used as a focal element in order to demonstrate a contrasting, optimistic atmosphere; reflective of the changes occurring within Red. Likewise, McMurphy alters Bromden by demonstrating what true sacrifice is when he undergoes repeated Electro Shock Therapy sessions; allowing Kesey to explore imagery and symbolism associated with the biblical allusion, ‘wearing a crown of thorns’. Both authors present their respective premises successfully through the narrators’ contrast in characterisation, whilst presenting a common belief that freedom requires sacrifice.

The pronounced transformation in the narrators is demonstrated through techniques unique to the respective texts, as well as the distinct use of contrasts. Melodic music creates a buoyant atmosphere in the closing scene of The Shawshank Redemption, with the culmination in contrast of Red’s character. The use of repetition is once again featured in order to demonstrate Dufresne’s effect on Red, specifically his newfound ability to hope, ‘I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

I hope’. Similarly, by the completion of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey makes it clear, through the use of a cliched simile, that McMurphy’s flair for instilling self worth has allowed Bromden to truly live again, and escape the daily drudgery of ward life, “I felt like I was flying. Free. Nobody bothers coming after an AWOL, I knew…” Contrasting Bromden’s character from beginning to the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest allows the audience to examine Kesey’s idea that individuality is a powerful motivator.

Darabont’s ideology that a leader is a provider of hope is portrayed through repetition, sound effects, and the contrast in Red’s character. Kesey and Darabont both present their respective ideas through contrast in characterisation, yet in very different ways. This disparity is primarily due to the difference in text types; resulting in Kesey’s reliance on the literary techniques of imagery and symbolism, and Darabont’s deliberate use of light and sound.

Though the narrators are of critical importance in portraying their own transformations, the protagonists instigate the change and consequently develop the author’s ideologies with equal significance. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Shawshank Redemption share a vast number of similarities in relation to their themes, whilst depicting divergent meaning due to the differing ideologies of the respective authors. Kesey’s and Darabont’s use of contrasts within the narrators supports the ideas present within the texts; allowing the audience to formulate their own beliefs about the importance of individuality and hope.

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Shawshank Redemption Characters. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Shawshank Redemption Characters
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