Moral Principles in The Movie "Shawshank Redemption"

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About this sample


Words: 1573 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 1573|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

In the year 1947. A youthful Portland banker, Andy Dufresne, is condemned of the homicide of Linda Dufresne and Glenn Quinti (Linda’s lover). Andy is stubborn in supporting his innocence, but the proof is overwhelming and he is penalized to two life sentences in Shawshank Penitentiary. In prison, he becomes friends with an associated prisoner, Red, who has been in Shawshank for 20 years. Red is known as the “man who knows how to get things” and can get anything a prisoner could want from the outside world. Andy approaches Red after a month of imprisonment demanding a rock hammer in order to pick up his old interest of rock collecting and shaping. Shawshank is a harsh and difficult environment, with heartless guards, vicious outbursts, and regular instances of sexual assault. Early on Andy becomes the target of tenacious rape from a gang called the “The Sisters” and their leader, Bogs.

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As a way of escaping this abuse, Andy takes up a week-long job tarring the roof of a near factory. While working, he hears the captain of the guards, Byron Hadley, complaining about an ridiculous tax on his inheritance, and Andy sees an opening. As a former banker, Andy offers to help Hadley dodge taxation and wins some protection from the cold hearted captain. When Bogs and the Sisters then attack Andy, they beat him up so bad that he is put in the infirmary, but Hadley, recently ingratiated to the former banker, punishes Bogs by beating him harshly, to such an extent that Bogs gets transferred to a hospital outside of prison. When Andy returns from the infirmary, he demands a poster of Rita Hayworth from Red, which Red devotedly acquires, and which Andy soon hangs on his wall.

As word of Andy’s economic knowledge becomes more broadly identified, the warden, Norton, bargains Andy a position working in the prison library, where he can help guards and himself with their financial interests. There Andy takes an notice in refining the library and helping to educate his associated inmates, writing to the Senate daily demanding more books, until they finally surrender and accept his requests. After Sometime, an elder inmate, the gentle Brooks, is discharged from prison into the real world. While it seems as though freedom is all he can ever have craved, the real world does not agree with the older man, who finds himself in a halfway house after 50 years of sentence, and hangs himself in his room. After Norton established a program through which the prisoners can start working on infrastructure outside the prison walls, he begins receiving bribes from local businesses who fear that prison labor will take away opportunities for their industry.

Andy hides the money away in a bank account under a mock name, helping the warden launder money for various years. In 1964, Shawshank welcomes a fresh inmate, a pleasant man named Tommy Wiliams, who becomes a friend of Red and Andy. Andy helps Tommy study to read and get a diploma, and it finally comes to light that Tommy knows the person who truly killed Andy’s wife and her lover. Seeing a way to liberty, Andy notifies the warden of the evidence, hoping for a second trial, but the warden desires to protect his investment and has Tommy killed and Andy put in solitary confinement for two months. When Andy finally gets out of solitary, he tells Red about his daydreams of freedom, to live in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican coastal town. Red says it would certainly not happen, but Andy sustains hope and tells Red that if he ever gets out of Shawshank he should go to a place in Buxton to recover a package buried under an oak tree.

The next day, Andy’s doesn’t come out for roll call, having fled through a hole he has been digging with the rock hammer for countless years. He poses as the fake person in whose name all of Norton’s money has been deposited, takes the money, and escapes to Mexico. In the process, he also tips the police off to Norton’s dishonest business dealings. When the authorities go to arrest the warden, he shoots himself. After 40 years, Red finally makes parole, and visits the place in Buxton that Andy stated him about. He digs up a box full of money and a letter from Andy telling him to come to Zihuatanejo. He does and the two friends unite.

Shawshank Redemption was definitely one of the best movies I have ever watched, and I also had the chance to watch it again in our class thanks to professor Ryan Duffy. This movie had several moral principles which made me think a lot throughout the movie.

The first big ethical principle existent in the movie was power. Almost all characters imposed sufficient power to create consequences considered sinful. The most intense ones were the guards, who used ruthless force upon the prisoners without sympathy. This is immoral because some of the prisoners may not even have been guilty, but falsely convicted and punished for nothing. Yet, since we cannot identify this for sure, as an audience and by the way the movie displayed the guard’s cruelty, we feel sympathy for prisoners being beaten and tortured and trust it is a truly immoral way of dealing with authority. They abuse of their power in a way to get a prisoner’s respect, but instead receiving the reverse.

Another character linked to this was Norton, the director, who assumed that his words ruled Shawshank Prison. He viewed the prisoners as having no purpose in the world or having no worth, and therefore tortured them without thinking about their personal lives, another moral issue. One example of the ruthlessness that really stunned me was the death of the new prisoner, who stated his feelings of innocence and was murdered by the guards instantly. It felt to me like critic to defeat of a voice, or opinion, because none of the prisoners could show any sort of sorrow or annoyance without being tortured.

Another way in which power was used in the incorrect sense was the Inside Out program, which clearly promoted slavery. I thought it was interesting to see the prisoners are eager to work for the program, while from an outside standpoint I saw it all as slave labor and corrupt use of their power. Norton fundamentally made them work to get cash, having no benevolence for the detainees. This is profoundly exploitative since he utilized others' diligent work and discipline as a method for helping himself and getting all the resources. He additionally conflicted with his religious standards, as he so firmly clutched the Bible yet did things that the Bible would totally dismiss. One case of how he conflicts with the Bible is the point at which he murders Thomas, the new prisoner, since he knew reality and for no other explanation. In any case, despite the fact that the above portrayals caused me to identify over Dufresne and Red more than the guards and Norton, them two did things that conflicted with good standards as well.

Dufresne, while attempting to make tracks in an opposite direction from jail, started to work in the monetary office of the jail and totally use it furthering his potential benefit. He made up false records and changed guidelines inside the code of morals of the prison. He at that point utilized false recognizable proof toward the conclusion to pull off things and pulverize Norton's life, who was then observed as the blameworthy one. In any case, because of the way that his activities were done in light of an erroneous conviction, they appeared to be ethically legitimate, since he was just attempting to seek retribution. Feeling twists our perspective on this moral issue.

By getting away toward the end, we feel cheerful for him as opposed to stunned at his capacity to trap others and pull off all the advantage, without telling his own companions who helped him all through the procedure of 'reclamation'. Be that as it may, by helping Red toward the end, we see his activities diversely by and by and I even had tears of satisfaction in observing them two rejoin in opportunity toward the endingof the movie, an excellent scene.

In conclusion, looking back into our movies and morality class I found that all characters, despite the dreadful conditions they were in, were trying to find happiness and trying to discover useful ways to leave the penitentiary. For example, because of the setting of the movie, we saw Dufresne’s actions as less immoral than those of other characters. Yet all actions narrate back to the idea that your actions will have consequences and one must look at the consequences to decide whether or not to do the action. Boggs, for instance, did not look at the consequences and was sentenced to death after tormenting Dufresne.

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Dufresne, however, did look at the upcoming consequences of his actions as he got all the benefit out of all those years in prison. Norton was also immoral when he killed Thomas due to the naive fact that Thomas knew the truth about Dufresne’s innocence. Norton wanted to escape any penalties that would ride upon himself because of the certified unfair conviction of Dufresne. The movie clearly has ideas that were talked about in class and it shows all the different ethical ideas that are present in society. It was in my opinion, one of the best movies ever made.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Moral Principles in The Movie “Shawshank Redemption”. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“Moral Principles in The Movie “Shawshank Redemption”.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Moral Principles in The Movie “Shawshank Redemption”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
Moral Principles in The Movie “Shawshank Redemption” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from:
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