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Prisonization in Shawshank Redemption

This is the article written by Medeline Allen

Date:   6/25/2022 1:18:32 PM   ( 4 mon ) ... viewed 73 times

Prisonization in Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank Redemption is a film by Frank Darabont, based on the story of Stephen King. The film was not the most successful at the box office, but managed to earn the recognition of both critics and spectators. The picture tells the story of Andy Dufresne, the former vice-president of the bank, who got to Shawshank prison, which no one managed to escape from. For the murder of his wife and her lover, Dufresne was sentenced to life imprisonment, since all the witnesses’ testimonies and evidence were against him, however he did not admit his guilt. It can be said a lot about the director’s, actors’, screenwriters’ and other cinematographic people work leading to create such an outstanding motion picture. However, besides being of significant importance for cinematography, Shawshank Redemption is a detailed insight into the prison life and, to some extent, is a more or less true depiction of correction facility atmosphere and environment.

One can see the embodiment of several significant correction concepts in the film. For instance, Bogs and “the Sisters” depict the nature, power and necessity for prison violence. Red, the character played by Morgan Freeman, is a central figure to understand prison economy with its own currency (cigarettes), exchange rate and market. Nevertheless, the most important and clear idea discussed and showed in the movie is prisonization. Speaking about the issue, the first thought to discuss is Andy Dufresne’s attempts to avoid becoming a prison man and achieve success.

Andy’s success and final prison break do not mean he had any super abilities or he was a tough person, who could fight everyone. His strength lays in his peace, intelligence and patience. His intelligence helped Andy not to completely lose his human face; he remained true to himself and proved that his principles cannot be broken. Cold-bloodedness and perseverance allowed him not to lose hope even without knowing for sure whether his plan will be successful. He was not a slave and was not going to adjust to the prison system. This thought is clear; it penetrates the whole movie, and is, perhaps, a good representation of prisonization issue from the standpoint “how not to be broken by prison.”

On the other side, Red as a story-shaping character, speaks of such a concept as a “prison man,” which, when heard somewhere, will surely cause associations with the film, and prisonization aspect is directly connected with “prison man” concept. The interesting thing is that “prison man” is not about Andy. The story of Brooks Hatlen is deeply tragic and touching, even with a noticeable secondary character of the hero. Despite the fact that only few minutes of the film are dedicated to him, he is the best example of prisonization notion. A young boy, imprisoned for murder in 1905, turns into a decrepit old man with a staggering gait within years and decades. That young boy, who saw the car only in passing, no longer exists. Instead, we see an elderly man over 70, who does not find himself in a new world. He was an important, special, educated and well-read person responsible for the library. Outside the walls of the penitentiary, he receives an indulgent post in a new-fashioned supermarket, where a man in a suit, half his age, speaks to Brooks as if he was a child, with a spark of disdain in his eyes. Here is the prisonization essence – the person is everything inside the prison walls, but he is nothing outside them, no one knows that he has ever existed but “Brooks was here.”

Shawshank Redemption stands out in many different ways: cinematographic, emotional and criminal, in a way a movie can stand out from this standpoint. The events in the movie are slightly exaggerated, but the concepts of prison life and its realities are shown in details and truthfully. This is especially correct for the issue of prisonization on the example of Brooks, remaining a “prison man” even when he finally got freedom.

This article is the work of professional writer Medeline Alllen, more posts you can read at

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