The film “The Shawshank Redemption” directed by Frank Darabont is a film in which we see the journey of a man, Andy Dufresne, who is put in prison and forced to adapt as a character into prison life. Frank uses the relationships formed through the film to give us an understanding of Andy and the effects he has on prison life. The key relationships looked at to give this understanding are the friendship of Andy and Red, the partnership of Andy and the Warden, also the friendly guidance between Andy and Tommy.

The relationship between Andy and Red in the film is one of which is viewed as a close friendship within the prison. Andy and Red are seen repeatedly together in the prison walls consulting about topics they only share with each other. The two grow a very close bond and Andy shares all his thoughts and beliefs with Red about his hope of gaining freedom from the Shawshank prison. As the film progresses we begin to see the understanding of Andy and how he has this sense of hope and freedom to eventually escape the prison life and be free from the grey prison walls. Andy shares things with Red through their relationship as friends which represent this understanding and gives evidence of the hope Andy hangs on to within him. Andy gives Red a harmonica during the film as a gift in which Red refuses to play. This is a symbol used in which we see Andy trying to restore the hope in Red by using the music as a sign of freedom. The music is seen to allow prisoners escape mentally from the grey walls and feel like free men as they focus on the sound the music produces. We see in the film Red finally plays the harmonica once Andy has begun his escape, digging through the grey prison walls, suggesting that Andy has produced the hope back into Red as he has found his own reward for himself keeping hope as he finally regains his freedom. In society we use music ourselves to escape from our emotions and focus on the feeling the music wants to give us. We understand that Andy is the powerful holder of this sign of hope and freedom by the symbol of the Harmonica he gifts to red as part of their friendship. During the film we also see a voiceover technique used during an important scene relating to the relationship of Andy and Red. Once Red is released from prison Andy sends him on a mission to find a letter he left for Red. The voice over of Andy’s voice tells us that in the letter Andy has written, “hope is a good thing.” This portrays that Andy has stood beside Red the whole way through his journey and once Red is released from prison himself, Andy is still there to remind Red of the hope and freedom he has shared with him throughout the journey. This idea links to another film “Philadelphia” directed by Jonathan Demme where, significantly, Andy Beckett uses music in the film to prove to his lawyer Joe Miller that he to should see the hope and sense of freedom he believes in. This is in order to win the court case and set himself free of the discrimination he has been facing. Again Becket uses the symbol of music to escape from his own prison in which he enforces on Joe to give him that same sense. These concepts portray that we as people can often find ourselves in these same situations, where we are relied on to give or receive this same sense of hope and freedom that both Andy’s are reflecting within the two films. We see that in our own lives objects are used to represent something in which we find empowering, and can turn to in order to find our own belief of hope and freedom from our own personal prison.

A second relationship seen to deepen our understanding of Andy Dufresne in the film, is the relationship between him and the Warden of the Shawshank prison. Into the film the Warden begins to use Andy’s skills as a bank manager from outside the prison to manage his books and money funds of the prison. The two also consulted about ways to make the prison better as Andy was very adamant in changing the prison to a better good. Evidence of this is the symbol of the prison library. Andy was persistent to renovate the prison library and make it a more bright and enjoyable place for prisoners to be away from the gloomy grey walls of the prison. Andy struggled to persuade funds from the Warden and the acceptance he needed from him. From this we learn Andy’s determination and perseverance he brings to the film and his inmates. Andy gains the wardens respect in order to have authority in the prison by doing his dirty work. Another symbol seen reflecting on Andy’s perseverance is the symbol of the letters Andy sent to the government regarding more funds. Andy sends letter after letter for many years until he finally receives some funds in which he can use to renovate his prison library. The letters prove Andy’s determination he has a character as he goes over the Warden and proves this side of him in which allows him to get what he wants which is to upgrade the quality of the prison environment. This relationship in the film with the Warden and Andy is seen to bring out Andy’s determination he has a character to get done what he sees needs to be done. This lets us believe Andy has a powerful role in the film and in the prison which deepens our understanding to view him as a prisoner who stands out from the rest and makes his own mark within the prison going against what is seen as stereotypical behaviours inside the grey walls. Even in our own lives we know that any determination we use will get us closer and closer to reaching our goal, exactly what Dufresne as a character is reflecting on in the film.

The final relationship we look at to deepen our understanding of Dufresne as a character is between Andy and tommy. Tommy was a younger man bought into the prison in which Andy took under his wing and mentored. Andy gave guidance to Tommy and worked with him to help him pass exams which would set up his life outside prison. “What I mean is, you don’t seem to be a very good thief, maybe you should try something else.” Andy saying this to Tommy shows their type of their relationship and how Andy is seen to give him the proper guidance and stear him in the right direction with his life. The friendship between these two characters and the behaviour Andy has with Tommy shows the commitment Andy to his inmates and the distance he is prepared to go to in order to help out these men. This relationship really gives us a good insight into the type of man Andy thrives to be inside the grey walls. We can see he takes it upon himself to help out Tommy get his life back on track from being a criminal which Andy is not one himself. The test Andy is helping Tommy with is the bond between the two characters which backs up Andy’s commitment as a character to his inmates and the levels he is willing to lend his assistance to. This again links into the movie Philadelphia where Andy Becket is turned down by many lawyers because of his circumstances of being gay. Joe Miller who originally says no to Andy then takes on his case and forms a friendship with Andy in which he gives guidance to through the tough court case. These relationships in both films portray to us that a person who is willing to mentor us and help us through difficult times is a true friend worth having round to get us back on track. The relationship of Andy and Tommy deepened our understanding of Andy as a character and showed us the kind soul he has within him as a person.

In the film “The Shawshank Redemption” Frank Darabont uses relationships to deepen our understanding of Andy inside the prison as a character. These relationships included the friendship of Andy and Red, the partnership of Andy and the Warden, also the friendly guidance between Andy and Tommy. To conclude, we see these relationships viewed Andy as a character with a good sense of hope and freedom, determination and commitment to his fellow inmates as a character inside the grey walls of the prison.

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