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Having Hope Vs. Consequences of Hope: How Hope Is Fragile in the Movie Shawshank Redemption

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Trevor Neable

ENG4U1

Mr. Sanders

7 March 2011

Having Hope vs. Consequences of Hope: How Hope is Fragile in the Movie Shawshank Redemption.

"Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain" (Samuel Johnson). Not only during the seventeenth century was hope, and everything anointed with it, notably depicted throughout Jonson's life but still is a reoccurrence in the American lifestyle from the1930's to 60's. In the movie, Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont, hope is portrayed as extremely fragile; having it can lead to recklessness, destruction, or even save people. One area in which having hope can be delicate is how it can lead someone to act reckless which is examined through the protagonist Andy Dufresne. Another way having hope can be frail is how it can lead to destruction which is portrayed through the characters Hadley and the Warden Mr. Norton. Furthermore, having hope can be delicate because it can save people which are examined through the characters Andy and Red. By studying this topic the reader will understand how hope is fragile as it can lead to either reckless nature, destruction in people, or even save someone.

Having hope, the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best, can extremely fragile and lead to recklessness among people which is explored throughout Frank Darabont's movie Shawshank Redemption. This is demonstrated through the protagonist, Andy Dufresne. Andy, who has been convicted for murder and sentenced to serve two life sentences in Shawshank Prison, leads the viewer to empathize with him as he states he committed no such crime. The viewer later finds out this is indeed true and Andy, an innocent man has been sentenced to punishment for his believed sins in prison. It is in prison that Andy starts to become reckless as he states to Red who is a friend of his in prison, "If they ever try to trace any of those accounts, they're gonna end up chasing a figment of my imagination...the funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook" (Darabont). This quote shows the viewer Andy has a sense of hope or a feeling that events will turn out for the best. He hopes and believes he will never get caught for his crimes in prison. Andy claims he was an "honest" man, "straight as an arrow" or someone who obeyed the laws and authority figures not getting into much trouble outside of prison. He was a successful, hard working class man, who was in charge of managing a bank. However, this all changes in prison as Andy claim's it is where he became a "crook". The director uses this irony to show Andy's recklessness because prison is a place where the convicted are sentenced to go for punishment and repent for their sins, not to become "crooks". Andy states again to Red, "What you hear isn't half of it. He's got scams you haven't even dreamed of...There's a river of dirty money running through this place...I channel it, filter it, funnel it - Stocks, securities, tax-free municipals - I send that money out into the real world and when it comes back...by the time Norton retires, I will have made him a millionaire" (Darabont). The viewer learns here that Andy's "crime" in prison is money laundering for Mr. Norton the Warden. This hope of never being caught for his crimes in prison or caring about how he has now become a "crook" leads to his reckless choices. He is illegally making the Warden a "millionaire" and shows no emotion or regret for his actions. For example Red asks him if his crime "Ever bother[ed him]" (Darabont). Andy's response is simply, "I don't run the scams Red, I just process the profits. Fine line, maybe, but I also built that library and used it to help a dozen guys get their high school diploma. Why do you think the warden lets me do all that?" (Darabont). This proves Andy's reckless nature as he has hope he will not be caught and believes he is hardly involved in the crime, simply doing good in a bad situation. He helps people by building the "library" and helping other inmates get their "high school diploma". However, the viewer knows he is only able to do so by money laundering for the Warden. Andy furthermore, proves his recklessness by not admitting his crimes. He says that he doesn't run the "scams" but just processes the "profits". Thus demonstrating ignorance to the fact he is still committing a crime by doing so. Andy's actions also demonstrate his recklessness by escaping from prison. Red states, "In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison , a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub..." (Darabont). Andy proves his recklessness by his decision and action of escaping. His determination and hope to escape from prison is reckless even though he knows he was innocent because escaping is still considered a major crime and is the most careless decision an innocent man could make and act upon. He simply risks everything in going through with his escape. Everything from the harsh physical punishment he would receive if he were caught to being sentenced to more prison time possibly lessening his chances in ever making bail and getting a second chance at his old life. Andy's fragile hope while in prison ultimately resulted in leading him to act out in recklessness.

Having hope can be extremely fragile as it can lead to destruction in people. Two characters in Shawshank Redemption, that best portray this aspect of frail hope are Captain Byron Hadley and the Warden, Mr. Norton. Hadley's hope in the movie was the fact that he believed he was protected and could never be caught for his verbal and excessive physical abuse amongst the inmates. An example of Hadley's excessive abuse is when Tyrell, an inmate, comments on Hadley's punishment of a new inmate on the first night, "Dead. Hadley busted up his head pretty good. Doc went home for the night. Poor bastard laid there till this morning. By then, there was nothing we could do" (Darabont). Hadley's hope that there is no possibility of ever being caught or convicted of his actions towards the inmates leads him to act this way. His job is to enforce order and punishment for those who act out or disobey. His choice is to do this by inflicting extensive physical abuse upon

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