The Shawshank Redemption Evaluation Essay

  • Last Edited: February 13, 2018
The Shawshank Redemption Evaluation Essay


Despite its setting being a jail, “The Shawshank Redemption” strangely captures viewers in its warm hold, making them members of the family. There are a number of films that provide viewers with vivid experiences and create swift, shallow emotions. This movie, however, moves slowly, employing the quiet, perceptive voice of the narrator to include viewers in a tale of a prison community. It holds deeper meaning than a majority of other movies, being themed on continuity within a lifetime, on the basis of hope and friendship (Ebert).

Interestingly, although the movie’s hero is Andy Dufresne, (condemned ex-banker played by Tim Robbins), viewers don’t get to view actions from his standpoint. The movie kicks off with Dufresne being given life penalties for two murders – his wife’s and her lover’s. After this scene, the movie never shows his outlook again, but moves to the outlooks of the prison community, especially Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (another inmate with a life sentence, played by Morgan Freeman). Redding narrates his recollection of the time Dufresne first walked in (“looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over”); the former, apparently, erroneously predicted that Dufresne would not be able to survive prison (Ebert).

Right from Dufresne’s first appearance to the culmination of the movie, viewers only perceive Dufresne from others’ perspective, including his best mate, Red; Warden Norton; the elderly librarian, Brooks; prison guards; and fellow inmates. Red is the deputy who viewers are able to relate to; the redemption, eventually, is Red’s. Dufresne’s example proves to viewers that one needs to always have hope, remain true to oneself, be patient, set a subtle, straightforward example and leap at the opportunity one is granted. “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really,” he tells Red. “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” (Ebert)


I believe Shawshank’s structure doesn’t revolve around Dufresne, but around how viewers relate to him–their approval, interest, and sympathy. If Dufresne was portrayed as the courageous, endearing hero, Shawshank wouldn’t have held so much mystery and would be just like any other movie. In the end, as Dufresne is existential he doesn’t depend on luck and chance, but ensures he makes decisions which afford him control over his life.


Dufresne displays freedom’s awful existential nature, when he plays the recording over the public access system knowing full well that his action will have consequences. He doesn’t object to his solitary confinement; rather, he believes it was the most stress-free time he spent (Ebert).

Dufresne is a dependable person who loves to assist other people in reaching their complete potential. For instance, he teaches Tommy and others to ensure they are able to pass high school-equivalent exams and strives to ensure the prison’s library is fully stocked with a broad range of books for inmates. Hope doesn’t belong to existential thinking. True existentialists go with the flow, without believing in the afterlife or in a better future (Klassen).

Dufresne constantly displays hope and urges fellow inmates to do the same. He relies on the bond he has with Red, who provides him numerous things necessary for successfully escaping. Clearly, Dufresne cares for his friend, leaves money behind for him and invites him to Mexico, none of which is existential. Existentialists consider man to be a free, self-sufficient loner (Klassen).

Dufresne dreams and provides self-motivation, envisioning Zihuatanejo’s sandy beaches and blue waters rather than dwelling on his current circumstances. Real existentialists wouldn’t fantasize this way; instead, their focus would only be on real life. Dufresne demonstrates human existential is when resisting The Sisters’ and Boggs’ advances (Klassen).

Dufresne adopts the tough course, choosing to take control of his own destiny. Instead of losing hope and remaining imprisoned until death, he fabricates his escape. He never lays blame for his incarceration on external circumstances. He admits to being led to prison by the ramifications of his own actions. Despite not being guilty of murder, Dufresne feels he is to blame for pushing away his wife: “She was beautiful. God I loved her. I just didn’t know how to show it, that’s all. I killed her, Red. I didn’t pull the trigger, but I drove her away. And that’s why she died, because of me” (Klassen).


Dufresne’s character embodies several existential qualities. He is a determined, alert and exceptional man who leads life based on his personal ethical code, makes choices for himself, and attempts to maintain control. He goes all-out to regain his freedom. He is, in the end, an existential character (Klassen). Moviegoers prefer exciting films and exciting titles draw them to the theatres in hordes. They are wary of movies themed on “redemption” and are usually not excited by the idea of a movie which has much serious work put into it. However, they seek hope even in channels of entertainment and any movie that provides it will probably enjoy staying power, irrespective of whether it immediately attracts audiences or not (Ebert).


DoL. Criteria for Evaluating a Film Essay. n.d. 14 February 2017.

Ebert, Roger. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. 17 October 1999. 14 February 2017.

Klassen, Anika. Andy Dufresne, an Existential Hero? 28 January 2014. 14 February 2017.

     Open full document and source list


     Order a one-of-a-kind custom essay on this topic

Cite This Resource:

Latest APA Format (6th edition)

Copy Reference
The Shawshank Redemption Evaluation Essay. (2017, August 14). Retrieved from

Latest MLA Format (8th edition)

Copy Reference
"The Shawshank Redemption Evaluation Essay." Student Network Resources Inc, 14 August. 2017. Web. 19 July 2018.

Latest Chicago Format (16th edition)

Copy Reference
Student Network Resources Inc. "The Shawshank Redemption Evaluation Essay." (accessed July 19, 2018).
Related Essays

Bartleby the Scrivener Analysis Essay

Abstract Engaging in a Bartleby, The Scrivener analysis essay is bound to test one’s patience. It is one of The most inscrutable works of Herman Melville. While Melville is perhaps most famous for his nautical adventure tales, this paper delves into The enigmatic cogs and wheels that make this short story a piece of eternal literature. Eternal literature transcends The constraints of time and relatability, touching upon Themes and symbols that are indelible to human existence. This paper summarizes The major events of The short story, briefly addresses The main characters, and examines The more… Continue Reading...

Sexual Misconduct and the Fall of Hollywood Essay

[toc] Opening In this essay about Sexual Misconduct and The Fall of Hollywood, we examine how The allegations of sexual impropriety by some of Hollywood’s power players has led to a major shake-up in The entertainment industry.  This essay will contain a list of some of The Hollywood players accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, The allegations against Them, and at least partial lists of Their known accusers.  The essay will also delve into an examination of The casting couch phenomenon.  Although These sexual misconduct allegations may have come as a surprise to much of middle America, There is… Continue Reading...

National Anthem Protest Essay

This free essay discusses The National AnThem Protest which was first started by Colin Kaepernick in The NFL and has now spread to many players both in The NFL and oTher major sports.  We will provide you with example titles, related topics, an outline as well as all The major parts of an essay (Thesis statement, essay hook, introduction, body, conclusion, works cited).  This can be used as a template/guideline/reference in helping you write your own paper.  If you need help writing, please review our "how to write an essay" tutorial. In 2016, a… Continue Reading...

What problems did the acquisition of empire generate for Rome?

With power comes responsibility, and with great power comes great responsibility. The acquisition of empire generated great responsibility for Rome, and as well as They entrenched The empire in history, The relatively rapid downfall of Rome signals The inability of The empire to anticipate what needed to be done to manage such a vast amount of territory with as culturally diverse a subject population. Although Rome attempted to monitor territorial acquisitions via a central governing authority, The increasing pragmatic need for decentralization of power led to several problems. During The beginnings of The Roman empirical era, The annexation of new territorial… Continue Reading...

Autism in the United States and Canada Essay

Essay Prompt Research a specific disability: Autism -- trace The effect of policy, practices/services, and perspectives related to that disability over time in The United States and in anoTher country. Compare and contrast now and Then in The United States with regard to The disability in terms of policy, practices, and perspectives and draw comparisons and contrasts to The oTher country at similar times in history. Complete The graphic organizer with your research notes and sources. Autism in The United States Policies in The United States changed towards granting more grants to autism research to understand what may cause… Continue Reading...

The Lost Boys of Sudan Essay

Essay Prompt The movie – The Lost Boys of Sudan - 1) Discuss The initial issues presented (if referred to Therapy) by individuals and families in The process of re-location to anoTher country. 2) What are ongoing issues as individuals and families get settled in anoTher country? Describe The issues for The individuals in The specific video viewed in your class. 3) Consider and discuss how you would establish rapport with individuals in The initial phase of Therapy; how would you engage individuals and families initially? 4) As individuals and families get… Continue Reading...

Theory vs. Practice in Small Business Setting Essay

When it comes to working in any sort of organization or corporation, one of The obvious chasms that becomes clear here is The relationship between Theory and what is practiced in a small business setting. To truly look at and assess that paradigm, The author of this report has interviewed an owner/manager at a small business to discuss what They do to make things work, what is suggested in Theory and scholarly literature and how those frameworks and lessons do or do not work for Their particular situation. The author of this report will personally be making a comparison and contrast between what is… Continue Reading...

The American Dream Essay

The American dream is something people in The United States and The world over, have strived for throughout The years. From The first immigrants of Western Europe to The new immigrants of Asia, Africa, and The Americas, many came to this country in pursuit of freedom a chance at upward mobility. This American Dream essay example will focus on The ways Americans have in The past and present, attempted to achieve a life of happiness and fulfilment in The United States. Table of Contents 1. Titles 2. Topics 3. Outline… Continue Reading...

My Papa’s Waltz Analysis Essay

[toc] Introduction Beginning a My Papa’s Waltz analysis essay can appear like a formidable task, as The poem is so simple, yet so enigmatic. Luckily, writing such an analysis essay can help you build a higher level of appreciation for The poem, as it can show you The layers of meaning embedded throughout each line. Close scrutiny of this poem can demonstrate The power that a precise word choice can wield in communicating feelings and visuals. In this piece, The words work togeTher to create a picture of tension, uncertainty and danger. Written over fifty years ago, My Papa’s Waltz is still an example of writing… Continue Reading...

Abortion Pros and Cons Essay

Abstract Abortion refers to The termination of The pregnancy and most members of society tend to feel strongly and often myopically about Their opinions of abortion. This paper will examine The complex and multi-faceted history that The United States has had with abortion as well as The pros and cons of this procedure. This essay will take a long look at The reasons that motivate those who support abortion and those who do not. It is hoped that this deep analysis will not only strengThen one’s ability to think critically, but allow compassion and… Continue Reading...