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The Shawshank Redemption: Theme. Directed by Frank Darabont. Themes and Issues. Many themes are explored in the film , however some of them are not typical of a stereotypical movie. Themes explored: Hope Institutionalised Justice and Injustice Freedom and Imprisonment

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the shawshank redemption theme

The Shawshank Redemption:Theme


by Frank Darabont

themes and issues
Themes and Issues
  • Many themes are explored in the film , however some of them are not typical of a stereotypical movie.
  • Themes explored: Hope


Justice and Injustice

Freedom and Imprisonment




theme hope
Theme : Hope

Hope is set against its opposite despair. Most of the inmates are afraid of hope because they think it will destroy them. In contrast Andy wont surrender hope. He believes hope gives people a reason to live, a sense of freedom.

He not only maintains hope himself but tries to give others the hope that life can and will get better, even in prison.

theme hope1
Theme : Hope
  • “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free”.

The discussion between

Andy and Red reflect this.

Red dismisses Andy’s

desire to go to Mexico.

“Get busy livin’

or get busy dyin”.

theme hope2
Theme : Hope
  • After Andy’s escape his legend grows, and he still gives hope to others. The idea of hope is linked to institutionalised and redemption. Those who lose hope are more likely to become institutionalised, where as the power of hope redeems.
  • Red must learn the importance

of hope in order to stay alive,

he needs to find a reason

to live, this is fulfilling

the promise he made to Andy.

theme hope3
Theme : Hope
  • “Remember Red, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. It never dies. I'm hoping this letter finds you well”.
  • By journeying to Mexico, Red chooses hope over despair. He hopes to be reunited with Andy and to have a future.
theme institutionalised
Theme : Institutionalised
  • The film looks at the effect on the individual adapting to prison life. Once the convicts conform they lose the ability to survive beyond the prison walls.
  • The inmates become too used to having everything decided for them. Brooks was a excellent example of a man being afraid of the outside world.

“In prison he was an

important man, an educated


theme institutionalised1
Theme : Institutionalised
  • When Brooks learns he is about to be paroled he threatens Heywood with a knife. Brook’s release from prison and his experiences foreshadow Red’s journey from prison.
  • But Red has hope, as a result of his relationship with Andy.
theme redemption
Theme : Redemption
  • The movie shows the triumph of the human spirit which can occur even in a place like Shawshank.
  • Red and Andy are both redeemed of their sins.
  • Andy felt guilty for driving his wife away. Red gives him absolution, and tells Andy he was not to blame.
theme redemption1
Theme : Redemption
  • Red’s redemption comes when he learns to have hope.
  • Hope and friendship

have the power to redeem

and are linked to the

imagery of rebirth and


theme humanity and inhumanity
Theme : Humanity and Inhumanity
  • The film explore the idea of good and evil. The 1st half shows the inhumanity of Shawshank, where many officers and prisoners have lost their inhumanity.
  • The prison routines work at de-humanising the new arrivals by stripping them makes and reducing them to a number.
theme humanity and inhumanity1
Theme : Humanity and Inhumanity
  • Andy represents the humanity while the warden, Hadley and the sisters represent the inhumane world of prison life.
  • Individual interests, music and knowledge are a number of things the men sustain to help them maintain their humanity.
  • The most important force in the film is friendship.