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Andy Dufresne, an Existential Hero?

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Anika Klassen

on 28 January 2014

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Transcript of Andy Dufresne, an Existential Hero?

Andy Dufresne, an Existential Hero
Andy demonstrates the existential quality of dreadful freedom when he knows that he will be punished for playing the music over the PA system yet he chooses to do it anyways. He has no objection to the punishment he receives but rather describes it as the " easiest time [he] ever spent."
Andy Dufresne is an authentic character who likes to help others reach their full potential. He does so by teaching people like Tommy in the prison so that they can pass their high school equivalency tests. He also works very hard to establish a proper library with a wide array of books for the prisoners to read.

Existentialism Unit Project
The Shawshank Redemption
Andy Dufresne, existential hero?
Anika Klassen Blk: H
Existential
Not Existential
Existential
Not Existential
Andy Dufresne: "You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?"
Red: "No."
Andy Dufresne: "They say it has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory."

Hope is not part of the existential train of thought. A real existentialist accepts and experiences life as it comes, without the belief of a brighter future or an afterlife.

Andy Dufresne consistently shows signs of hope as well as encourages others to be hopeful during their time in Shawshank.
Andy can be seen as being dependent upon his friendship with Red. Red supplies him with many of the things he needed for his escape.

It is evident that Andy cares for Red. He even left him money and an invitation to join him in Mexico. This is not very existential. From an existential point of view, man is independent, lonely and self-reliant.
Andy is a dreamer who motivates himself by imagining the blue waters and sandy beaches of Zihuatanejo instead of focusing on where he is in the present. A true existentialist would not have such fantasies, but would rather concern themself with real life.
Andy demonstrates the existential quality of man-ness when he resists subjecting to the advances of Boggs and "The Sisters".
Andy takes the hard road when he chooses to take his destiny into his own hands. He chooses to fabricate an escape rather than giving up and rotting in prison for the rest of his life.
Andy never blames external circumstances for his imprisonment. He accepts that the consequences of his actions led him there. Even though he is innocent, Andy still feels responsible for having pushed his wife away.
"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."
Andy is existential when he plays the music for everyone. He acts on his desire to treat others well and help them to feel human. He gave the human pleasure of music to all the inmates, and because of his actions, "for the briefest moment every last man in Shawshank felt free."

Thesis: Ultimately, because Andy does not leave his fate up to chance, but instead makes choices that allow him to take control of his own life... he is existential.
Andy Dufresne is a man who embodies many existential characteristics. He lives his life according to his own moral code and strives to remain in control. He is stubborn and makes his own choices. Andy Dufresne is a brilliant and conscious man who goes to great lengths to reclaim his freedom. Ultimately, Andy Dufresne is an existential hero.

When Andy offers his banking services in exchange for "three beers apiece for [his] co-workers" he again displays his desire to treat others well and to make them feel human. He explains that "a man working outdoors feels more like a man if he can have a bottle of suds."
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