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Shawshank Symbols

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by

Craig Aitchison

on 17 December 2014

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Transcript of Shawshank Symbols

The Shawshank Redemption
Symbols and Motifs

Definitions
Colours
The Bible
ROCKS
A symbol is something which has a meaning beyond itself.
For example snakes are often used to symbolise evil.
Andy’s wife wears a red dress. This represents her passion and her sin.
The prison setting and costumes are predominantly dark, using colours like grey, black and dark blue.
The moments of light contrast: the sunshine when the men work on the roof, the bright blue of the Pacific ocean and the white sand at the end.
WALLS
Chess
Movies and Movie Posters
Birds
"Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming ," - Andy knows he has to keep things secret from the Warden.
The Bible
Andy defeats the Warden by making lots of little moves over a long period of time. He plans ahead.
Andy and Red
In this scene Andy and Red speak against the backdrop of a wall. Red says that there is no hope, suggesting they are trapped forever.
Andy's Letter
Red actually has to dismantle the wall to find the letter.
This allows him to be free.
Motifs are things which pop up again and again
In this scene from the beginning of the film, the camera soars over the walls showing the people trapped behind.
Inside it is grey and lifeless, outside there is lush green grass, life and colour.
BEER
Even beer comes to represent something in the film.
To the men it represents freedom and a taste of normality.
To Andy it is the moment when he is accepted as part of the group
Walls symbolise being trapped
The men carve their names into the wall.
Andy does this and it seems as if he is becoming like the others.
However, carving into the wall becomes his means of escape rather than the way he becomes part of the prison
Noticeably creating the library breaks down walls: education breaks down barriers for the men
At the end the river and rain act as purification not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. Andy is now truly free.
"Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.“
It is as if Andy has been baptised
The ocean at the end suggests the limitless possibilites for Andy and Red now
WATER
Warden says he believes in two things: “discipline and the Bible.”
He quotes in Andy’s cell: “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
This shows how hypocritical and two-faced he is
On his wall is his wife’s framed needle-point: "His Judgement Cometh and that Right Soon..."
Dufresne hides his rock hammer
in his Bible. "Freedom is found
within."
Cinema represents the chance of escape
Andy's posters symbolize the hiding of the truth
"Old Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature"
It also suggests Andy is durable, strong
Again the rocks suggest that Andy looks to the long-term
Red: These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.

Heywood: Shit. I could never get like that.

Prisoner: Oh yeah? Say that when you been here as long as Brooks has.

Red: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.
MUSIC
Andy Dufresne: That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you... Haven't you ever felt that way about music?

Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn't make much sense in here.

Andy Dufresne: Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.

Red: Forget?

Andy Dufresne: Forget that... there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours.

Red: What're you talking about?

Andy Dufresne: Hope.
[Andy has asked Red to procure Rita Hayworth]

Andy Dufresne: Can you get her?

Red: Take a few weeks.

Andy Dufresne: Weeks?

Red: Well yeah, Andy. I don't have her stuffed down the front of my pants right now, I'm sorry to say, but I'll get her. Relax!
[Playing checkers]

Red: King me.

Andy Dufresne: Chess. Now there's a game of kings.

Red: What?

Andy Dufresne: Civilized. Strategic...

Red: ...and a total fuckin' mystery. I hate it.
Music creates a sense of freedom.
Andy plays the Mozart music to remind the inmates of things other than the prison - beauty, love and hope.
There is music in the library.
He gives Red a harmonica. He says that the prison is no place for music.
Red has given up hope whereas Andy clings to things which give him hope.
Andy: there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours...Hope.
Full transcript