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Shawshank Redemption Movie - Term Paper Sample

4 pages
971 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Term paper
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For a long time, the media has portrayed prisons as a horrible a terrifying place. The movie Shawshank Redemption is no exception. In the movie, viewers are introduced to Andy who is a banker who had been wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. He was serving two life sentences back to back. While trying to service his time and his own prison identity, Andy ends up meeting Red among other inmates. In an attempt to fit into the life or prison subculture, Andy interacts with individuals who form the prison subculture. These various characters such as Red represent some of the aspects of prison culture (Darabont, King, Robbins & Freeman, 1994). Most of the prisoners succumb to various prison elements throughout the movie.


Prisonization can be defined as the process of socialization of an inmate into the subculture of prison life. To some inmates, a prison is a place of residence and work whereby individuals with the same issues are cut off from the wider society. Together such inmates lead a life of individuals who are formally administered and enclosed. Some individuals, however, do not adjust to institutionalization. Such individuals tend to have short prison times. The ones who succumb to institutionalization have longer sentences. In Shawshank, Brooks is a prime example to exemplify prisonization. He had been sent to prison for 50 years. In prison, he saw himself as an important individual who was in charge of the library. When Brooks was paroled, he found life difficult. Initially, he wanted to harm Heywood so that he could remain. On the outside, he realized that he could not live a normal life and thus committed suicide.

Inmate subculture

The terms inmate subculture can be used to refer to a group of individuals in prison who share common beliefs, values, and norms. When prisoners first enter prison, these various values, norms, and beliefs are stripped. Inmate subculture consists of behavior code, an economic system for illegal goods, a power hierarchy, and service distributions and various argot rules. Argot rules are some of the terms that prisoners use to refer to the various roles in prison, for instance, center-men, Fish, rat, fag, and punk. In the movie, Andy succumbs to inmate subculture. Andy is tasked with assisting prison guards with their taxes. In fact, he also manages the wardens money. When Andy is queried about it, he denies. Other prisoners get to like Andy once they get to know him as he is not a center-man. When red first asks Andy what crime he had committed on the outside, he replied that he was innocent. Most of the inmates in Shawshank are innocent. Andy had to accept his predicament although he was actually innocent.

The inmate code

Red in Shawshank redemption succumbs to inmate code. Inmate code is whereby you have to behave on the rules of survival. There are individuals in prison with power who one does not have to cross.' For red, he was the inmate who could get anything for you so long as it was reasonable. He was successful through his various business dealings. He ensured that his troops were paid through cigarettes.

Inmate roles

Heywood succumbs to the various inmate roles in Shawshank redemption. Inmate roles in prison are dependent on the life that prisoners undergo from the period that they are incarcerated to when they are released. Heywood plays a vital role in ensuring that the various roles prisoners play in the prison system. In the beginning, Heywood takes part in some of the prison initiation. Heywood is responsible for reeling in one of the prisoners. As a prisoner who had served a long time, Heywood understood how individuals reacted to their new situation. Here, Heywood plays the role of older more experienced inmates. When Brooks was paroled, it was Heywood who was at the center of confrontation. He had gone to wish brooks well and is thus used to explain the problem of institutionalization (O'Sullivan, 2001). After Andy escaped, Heywood used to tell stories about the fine times that they had with Andy.

Adaptive roles

Tommy in Shawshank redemption succumbs to an adaptive role. From the beginning, he was one character who seemed to enjoy prison life without a faze. He was a career criminal and was thus bound to be arrested once again after being released. This led Andy to lead him to a different path. He started learning. Tommy was responsible for some information that unsettled Andy in prison. As such, he was shot by a guard through the orders of the warden (Parse, 2007). Tommy represented a threat to the existing prison culture. He was an intruder to a system that was working fine. In the end, his murder led to the arrest of the captain and the warden committed suicide.


Bogs were one of the leaders of the Sisters group in prison. Due to the low inmate rights development at the time, inmates were not allowed conjugal visits. Some inmates such as bogs resulted in homosexuals. In most of the instances, Bogs and his colleagues would try and force Andy to have sex with them. Red notes that Andy was not always successful. Due to his sexual advances, it led to a confrontation between him and the guards. He was beaten senselessly and lived the rest of his life eating and drinking from a straw.



Darabont, F., King, S., Robbins, T., & Freeman, M. (1994). The shawshank redemption. Castle Rock Entertainment.

O'Sullivan, S. (2001). Representations of prison in nineties Hollywood cinema: from Con Air to The Shawshank Redemption. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 40(4), 317-334.

Fiddler, M. (2007). Projecting the prison: The depiction of the uncanny in The Shawshank Redemption. Crime, Media, Culture, 3(2), 192-206.

Rizzo Parse, R. (2007). Hope in Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A human becoming hermeneutic study. Nursing science quarterly, 20(2), 148-154.

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