The Shawshank Redemption : Notes

Essay by carbongraphHigh School, 11th gradeB, February 2009

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The Shawshank RedemptionI. Character:Generally, in a conventional film, the principle character will possess these qualities:* We identify with him or her* They engage us.

I want to be clear here that we do not necessarily have to like the principle character, but we do have to be engaged by the character; perhaps curiosity is enough. However, in almost every conventional film, the film tries to make the principle character likable. It accomplishes this through any number of ways:•The character has suffered some kind of loss, or faces some kind of loss•The character is the victim of some kind of injustice.

•The character has done good for some other character•The character experiences unrequited longing•The character is in some way vulnerable•The character is playful or funny•The character has a clear goal and the drive to achieve that goal•The character has clear motivation for wanting the goal and for being willing to work to achieve the goal* They are the principle agent of action; generally, they act, or fail to act, and therefore "earn" their dilemma; they act and earn the resolution.

* They grow in some way, which means that in some ways, they are naïve at the beginning of the film.

With this laid out, let's look at The Shawshank Redemption, and consider how the film draws us to the principle character in a number of ways:A. First ImpressionsWhen we first meet Andy Dufresne, he's in distress, waiting outside the bungalow where his wife is having an affair with the golf pro, and so our sympathies are in his favor. Notice that we don't have to know what he's upset about-just that he is upset. Shortly, we find that he is under assault in a courtroom. We do not yet know whether he is guilty or not, but because the...