Evaluating The Theme of Abuse and Power in "Shawshank Redemption"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1002 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 1002|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. The Tragic Reality of Shawshank Prison: Unjust Punishment and Abuse
  2. Conclusion
  3. References 

Today I will be explaining how the abuse of power and control is a major factor in the Redemption of Shawshank. Throughout the book there are countless times of which Andy the main character of the book/movie, was abused by other prisoners and guards who have a greater amount of power than himself. As Shawshank is much of a free for all prison not many people will help others if they are in trouble, for example Andy was constantly abused by 3 other prisoners for years straight he would try and fight back but couldn’t do much when it was three men against one.

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The Tragic Reality of Shawshank Prison: Unjust Punishment and Abuse

Andy Dufrense a man who was punished for murdering his beloved wife was sent to Shaw shank prison. Andy showed up before an official courtroom and he was condemned to carry out two life punishments in Shaw shank prison. During Andy's first night in prison the head guard named Byron Hadley heard one of the new prisoners wailing and whining that he didn't deserve to be there. The chief guard scolded the sobbing inmate to stop and threatened him. After non-stop sobbing and complaining, the inmate was eventually beaten to death by the chief guard for not listening to his command.

On a later date, the prison requested volunteers to work by tarring the top of one of the prisons structures. Following two or three hours into the activity, Andy catches the Chief guard complaining about paying a lot of taxes for an up and coming inheritance. Sentenced men are not permitted to tune in to the Chief guard talking, yet when Andy caught the Chief guards concern, Andy Dufrense immediately moved toward him and offered his assistance, since Andy was a banker before he was convicted. The Guard immediately put Andy close to the edge taking steps to drive him off if he didn't adhere to the prison law and guidelines. In any case, Andy clarified his capacities and administrations and offered to deal with the guard's expense issues. After this occurrence, all guards from the prison and different detainment facilities came to Andy to settle their assessment issues. In the long run, even the warden of Shaw shank prison searched for Andy's administrations. The prison guards didn't offer anything consequently after Andy settled every one of their records.

As an administrator in the Shaw shank prison, Andy composed letters to various libraries requesting gifts to supply the prison library. One day he got a record of Mozart entitled 'The Marriage of Figaro' from these libraries and immediately, Andy played the record on the open declaration framework to be heard by every one of the inmates. This agitated the warden and he condemned Andy to one month in isolation. Andy was also unfairly sentenced to long periods of solitary confinement for not finishing his food, trying to reason with the guards and refusing to do things that were commanded of him.

Warden Norton gets a lot of salary from Andy's comprehension of accounting and plans an illicit plan that he gives Shaw shank prisoners something to do in network administration, which he won by beating different temporary workers. As such, modest work from the detainees. In certain examples, he let individuals get a few guarantees from rewards and endowments. Andy launders cash for the warden by making a few financial profiles in different banks across America, together with a few investments, using a fake personal known as 'Randall Stephens'.

One day another inmate was condemned to serve in Shawshank prison. Andy meets with him and shows him how to read and write. Inevitably, the prisoner known as Tommy was a certified graduate of high school education. Time passes and Tommy tells Andy regarding his past inmate who killed a golf pro and his lover. This being like Andy's false crime, Andy approaches the Warden to re-open his crime for investigation. The warden then meets with Tommy and asks if he would vouch for Andy, Tommy immediately agrees. Right away Tommy is shot in the back by the chief guard. This happened because the warden wanted Andy to remain in Shawshank and continue his money laundering activities.


Through Shawshank Redemption it is clear that abuse and power is the major theme of the story with and endless amount of times of where the guards of the prison abused the power they had. This being beating the prisoners or forcing them to do certain jobs the guards didn’t want to do. As the guards were not afraid to kill if they had to, it meant they were ruthless with their punishments and didn’t care whether it was ethically right or wrong.  


  1. Darabont, F. (Director). (1994). The Shawshank Redemption [Film]. Columbia Pictures.

  2. King, S. (1982). Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Different Seasons). Viking.

  3. Gilmore, L. (1997). Power and abuse in prison: A review of theory and research. Justice Quarterly, 14(4), 633-659.

  4. Haney, C. (2001). The social context of prison life. Prison life: Sociological perspectives, 159-175.

  5. Zimbardo, P. G. (2007). The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil. Random House.

  6. Hogan, N. L., & Davis, J. L. (2003). Treatment of female inmates with a history of abuse: The role of education, empathy, and power. Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(1), 10-18.

  7. MacKenzie, D. L., Browning, K., & Haney, C. (2006). Examining inmate misconduct and manipulation in prison: The power of shame, guilt, and remorse. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33(1), 1-22.

  8. Padfield, N. (2006). Power relations in prison research. British Journal of Criminology, 46(5), 863-890.

  9. Haney, C. (2018). The social structure of prison life. In The Oxford Handbook of Sentencing and Corrections (pp. 400-422). Oxford University Press.

  10. Novak, S. B. (2004). The prison experience: Special issues of women in prison. Westview Press.

  11. Sykes, G. M. (1958). The society of captives: A study of a maximum security prison. Princeton University Press.

  12. Garland, D. (2001). The culture of control: Crime and social order in contemporary society. University of Chicago Press.

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  13. van Zyl Smit, D., & Snacken, S. (Eds.). (2009). Principles of European prison law and policy: Penology and human rights. Oxford University Press.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Evaluating the Theme of Abuse and Power in “Shawshank Redemption”. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Evaluating the Theme of Abuse and Power in “Shawshank Redemption”.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023,
Evaluating the Theme of Abuse and Power in “Shawshank Redemption”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Evaluating the Theme of Abuse and Power in “Shawshank Redemption” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 14 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from:
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