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Existentialism Essay

977 words - 4 pages

Existence Before Essence:
Existence before essence is the existential notion of a character creating meaning for oneself. It is a part of existentialism because it centers around one's value of existence. When Andy talks to Hadley atop the roof, he negotiates a deal with him to settle his issues concerning a large sum of money. Andy also refers to his prison-mates as “coworkers”, showing that he feels they are his business companions. This demolishes the notion of them as a lower class prisoner and elevates them to an equal plane of citizenship. Red amiably described, “for those twenty minutes we felt like free men” (King 47). The beers that Andy earned for his coworkers brought meaning ...view middle of the document...

Anxiety:
Anxiety is the pressure of picking the correct choice in a problem. It is vital to existentialism because one must formulate their own thoughts and decide what the most optimal answer to every choice is. The clearest example of anxiety is when Andy is asking Red for the Rita Hayworth poster. Red recalled, “I told you how nervous he seemed when he asked for that, nervous and filled with suppressed excitement” (King 91). Andy was very anxious upon making the decision to devote his life to escaping Shawshank rather than wait for parole. When he asked for the Rita Hayworth, he essentially concluded that the moral choice to make was to break out undetected, which he thankfully achieved. This is such a stressful and anxiety-inducing choice because if it failed he would never leave Shawshank's cruel embrace. A real world example of this is choosing a major because it is something that one devotes four years of their lives to obtain, and if they choose wrong they have wasted their college experience and potential jobs. Even though I chose Computer Science as my major, if I dislike it I'm screwed.
Nothingness:
Nothingness is giving up hope and accepting that life is meaningless. It coincides with existentialism because people do not have complete control over their existence. This is unfortunately relevant for Andy because he was wrongly accused of committing murder. When Andy was trying to get a trial with Tommy Williams, he goes to Norton to uncover grave news. Norton coldly told him that Tommy had been transferred, and Red notes, “it would have taken an extraordinarily stupid man not to smell deal all over that” (King 69). Norton transferred Tommy, knowing that Andy wanted him for the trial. Sadly, Andy had no control...

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