The Shawshank Redemption

"The Shawshank Redemption" is a unique movie which involves many different personalities and underlying themes. The personalities of the inmates are very interesting and when combined they create a fascinating plot, which gives a different perspective of prison life. The main characters are Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) and Eliss "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman). Additional characters such as the wise and simple old man, Brooks (James Whitmore), and the evil warden help to enrich the movie, giving it unequaled depth into the psychological aspects of prison life. The personalities of the Shawshank prison combine to form a community of sorts. This movie shows prisons not only as a place where murderers and thieves live, but also as a commune of people who have had problems and who are attempting to rehabilitate themselves.
The story revolves around Andy who is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover in 1946, and who is then sentenced to life in prison. He is sent to the Shawshank prison, the state prison in Maine, which is known for its harshness. One does not know if it is Andy who committed the murder of his wife and her lover. What is learned though, is that he is not ready for prison and honestly doesn't seem like a man who would survive. His thinking going into prison is just to survive and blend in. He's a wise man who competently deals with what the justice system has served him. He is normal on the outside but emotionally tormented on the inside. Andy is a very complex character who displays introverted tendencies, keeping his feelings to himself and never allowing anyone beyond his stoic exterior except for Red.
Andy's friendship with Red begins in a most peculiar manner. Andy asks for a rock hammer, which Red dutifully gets for him. Red, knowing that Andy is vulnerable, gets him on tar duty and takes him under his wing. The friendship is very unique and they both are energetic with emotion. Bill Dupre of the News and Observer writes of their emotion together, "This is a graceful, quiet characterization, and Robbins' scenes with Freeman are wrought with depth, delicacy, and precision."
This is where the opportunistic side of Andy begins to be evident. After overhearing the guards talking, he almost risks his life to tell the guard that he will help him keep the $30,000 that he inherited. This shows that Andy had guts and that he wanted to survive. In return for his favor of helping the guard, he gets his fellow workers ice cold beers on the last day. It is ironic because he has quit drinking himself. Andy then begins to work in the library because the warden hears of his talents in finance. This is where Andy first meets Brooks. He use this opportunity to ask the state for more money to build a larger library. And finally, the way Andy escapes is almost genius. Knowing that he is on the good side of the warden, he devises a very interesting and successful plan of escape.
Overall, Andy blends in with the prison community through the good times and the bad (the sisters, a group of homosexual rapists). His personality is one of a person who makes the most of what he has. But he never loses hope that he will be free one day.
Red is a very unique character in his own right. The prison's sole black inmate, he is the man who smuggles contraband into the prison. He is also a "lifer" and he says that he is the only man in the prison who is guilty. He has accepted his fate and is dealing with the prison as his life but still tries to make his life on the inside the best he can. Red really doesn't think much about being paroled (he is rejected several times during the movie). He just takes one day at a time. He is determined not to let the jail system get to him. His friendship with Andy becomes stronger throughout the movie from when they first meet until Red joins Andy in Mexico. Red is a man who knows the rights and wrongs of the prison and it seems that Andy becomes