Shawshank Redemption- An alternative interpretation

Shawshank Redemption needs no introduction. Everyone has seen it and they say that the story was pretty straightforward. Then, why this blasphemous looking post from me, you might wonder. Well, I have my reasons. To make a long story short, the film was highly recommended to me by a close friend because, I was told, it was ‘like Prison Break’ where the protagonist ‘breaks the jail in the end’! And so I sat there, in front of my laptop for three hours, patiently waiting for Andy to break free! I knew what was about to happen in the end and for this reason, I believe, I interpreted the film differently.

This is how I see it: Andy never wanted to break free from the prison in the first place. He was drunk the night his wife was murdered and during his trial, he confessed that he although he thought he hadn’t murdered his wife, he wasn’t sure about it. When he was then sent to Shawshank, he lived a good life so as to redeem his guilt.

Then why did he dig the wall of his cell? There is a scene where Red says “in prison a man will do almost anything to keep his mind occupied”. I think Andy worked in the night with his hammer just to keep himself busy in the solitary cell and kill time so as to not go insane in there. But as soon as he found out that he hadn’t actually murdered his wife the other night, he used all that he had worked on, during his time in prison, to plan his escape- that included the tunnel from his cell, his relationship with the warden etc.

This is how I interpreted Shawshank Redemption the first time I saw it. It was much later that I was told that Andy was planning his escape all along: for twenty long years! I strongly disagreed then I mildly do even today. Why would someone spend such a long time to plan and execute one’s escape? It was a high-security prison, I agree, but isn’t twenty years too long a time to keep executing on one’s escape plan from a prison? Shawshank Redemption is a celebration of hope and the latter might be the only thing that drove Andy all along- that does make a lot of sense but I am not fully convinced.

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