Themes in Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption



Course Instructor


Themes in Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

There are different themes in this novel. However, two of the main themes put across by Stephen King, the author of this novel, include power of hope, and the burden and pain of isolation and imprisonment. Stephen King uses different scenes and characters in the book to bring out these themes, among many other themes. This essay therefore, focuses on the themes of hope, and the pain of isolation and imprisonment in this novel. This will also show how Stephen King uses different characters and scenes to develop these themes in his novel.

One major theme that unfolds in this book is about the pain and burden of imprisonment and isolation. In this novel, Stephen King has mainly centered the plot on prison life, and inmates at Shawshank Prison. The prisoners in this prison are locked up. This therefore, could be either literally or metaphorically. Stephen King shows the aspect of isolation through the way he has portrayed the prison setting. The prison is enclosed with walls, showing that the inmates were confined inside the prison, thus, were isolated, and denied freedom like that in the life outside the prison walls. The recreation yard in the prison is also enclosed, as well as the cells, where each prisoner lived (King Web). The prison environment in this novel, thus, represents a different world, where the inmates have been forced into after being removed from the free world. They therefore, are confined in the prison, with no opportunity of going back to the outside world, unless their term is over. The lack of freedom and alienation from the mainstream society is disheartening to most prisoners, and this has detrimental psychological effects on the prisoners.

The pain of imprisonment in this book is evident in the lives of the prisoners. These are faced with multiple challenges in the prison, and therefore, these leave them with endless pain, both physically and psychologically. The prisoners by virtue of being in prison, have to encounter violent and mean people and gangs among themselves, who torture them, both physically and psychologically. The “sisters,” which is a gang in the prison tortures other inmates by abusing them sexually. On the other hand, both the experience of isolation and imprisonment make most of the prisoners believe that they are incompetent in the outside world. Experiences in the prison have derailed the inmates psychologically, and taken away their confidence and self-esteem. Although some prisoners such as Elwood Blatch want to appear like strong and hardened, deep within, these fear if they will ever fit in life outside prison, and if they will adapt to that life after serving their jail term. Red is also shown as being afraid of coping with freedom in the outside world (King Web).

Additionally, Stephen King in this novel developed the theme of hope and its power. Through the different events in this book, one realizes that the author attempts to show the audience that hope is powerful. The inmates at Shawshank have every reason to give up hope, but these have not lost hope. Therefore, it is the hope that they uphold, which is responsible for their continued living and survival. Even though the inmates are faced with the burdens that come with imprisonment and isolation, these have not given up life, nor attempted to take away their life. For instance, Andy comes out as a determined person, who fights to maintain his sense of self-worth and therefore, this virtue is sufficient for him to keep at bay any extreme sense of anger and frustration, which would result from the isolation and confinement he faces in the prison. He serves as the model of an ideal man to other prisoners, and also a epitome of hope, as characterized by his spirit, which never loses hope. Hope is also portrayed when Andy progressively tunnels the concrete wall of his cell, and finally crawls out of his cell into freedom. While outside prison, Andy writes a letter to Red, and reminds him that, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies” (King Web). Therefore, since Red was still in prison, he felt the importance and power of hope, and therefore, had no other option, but to embrace hope, just as Andy did. The proof that hope is powerful is therefore, also evident in Red, who had lost hope for the future, and in life, but is inspired by Andy to embrace hope again, which finally changes his life to start living positively.

Most books in literature are meant to teach life lessons. Most of the acts and experiences in literature books are not new or out of this world, but are events that many people can relate to. In this novel, the themes discussed are relevant and can apply to my life as well. These two themes highlighted teach moral lessons to me, even though I can relate with one of them, the theme of hope. The first theme about the pain and burdens of isolation and imprisonment has made me more knowledgeable about what goes on behind bars, and how this affects the involved persons physically and psychologically. Since I have never experienced this, I am now in a better position to understand the situation of most inmates behind the bars. Imprisonment is disheartening and causes isolation, therefore, this will help me to avoid any circumstance that might lead to imprisonment. In addition, this theme has made me to appreciate the freedom I have now, and to never put it in jeopardy.

On the other hand, the theme of hope and power of hope is an important theme in this book, which I can relate to. In my life, I hold the view that hope is what drives life, and it is what makes me achieve my dreams. Therefore, giving up hope might make a person to lose important things in their life. For instance, throughout my education, I did not give up hope, which is the reason why I am at this level of my education. Since days back in my elementary school, I studied hard, and when I failed a test, I would work harder for better performance. Neither did I give up hope on education nor got tired of studying, even when my results were not perfect. If ever I had given up, I would lose my education. Andy and Red did not give up, which is why they regained their freedom. This therefore, teaches to value hope, as this is an important virtue in life.




Works Cited

King, Stephen. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. n.d Pdf. Viewed 16 April 2013



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