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Institutionalism – How Frank Darabont Represents This Theme In ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

775 words - 4 pages

The cinematic rendition of Rita Heyworth and The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King: The Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont, brings many different emotionally connecting themes e.g. Redemption, Innocence, dehumanisation. Though these themes are quite confronting and thought-provoking themes, possibly one of the most significant themes in this film is the consistent representation of the idea of Institutionalism. Darabont explores the perspective that being so accustomed to the situation inside an intuition that the inmates aren’t able to re-assimilate to normal life in society once released from prison. This theme is brought out in the film through a number or characters, in particular: Brooks Hatlen, Tommy and of course the inseparable duo, Ellis ‘Red’ Redding and Andy Dufresne. All of these characters at times display the meaning and understanding of the term institutionalism and how it can have diverse effects on different people with different states-of-mind and different persona’s.
Brooks Hatlen is an obvious example of institutionalism in the film. After a large term in Shawshank prison, Brooks is released on bail to a local town. He then commences to work at the local supermarket whilst staying in a hostel. During his time in the prison, Brooks was able to occupy himself by running the almost non-existent prison library. When Andy is assigned to the library Brooks displays a keen knowledge about the way the library runs. He also re-introduces Andy to a young rook bird he named Jake. Andy’s first connection with Jake was in the mess where Brooks fed the young Jake from a pocket in his jacket. This scene demonstrates Brooks’ prolonged time of serving his term in Shawshank and how he has almost made a normal or at least comfortable life inside the prison. Later in his term at Shawshank, Brooks is told that he has been granted parole. At this unnerving notion of Brooks’ release he violently takes Heywood hostage hoping that killing someone could extend his prison term. After his release Brooks demonstrated that he had been institutionalised by the letter which narrates the last few scenes of his life. In the letter Brooks explains that he is not coping with life outside the correctional facility, he explains that he cannot live in fear and to the grief of the...


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