Shawshank Redemption Essay

1343 words - 6 pages

Shawshank Redemption Paper

In society, one of the most popular forms of punishment for deviant individuals who commit criminal acts is to send them to a correctional facility. Although the rest of society has rejected this person as a result of this behavior - in a restricted setting like prison - people begin to adapt to their surroundings. Inevitably, the longer one stays in this setting, the more institutionalized people become. Criminals will soon readily accept their status as a prisoner as well as establish a new identity within this community. In the film Shawshank Redemption, this is further explored as it follows several characters who spend a significant amount of time being ...view middle of the document...

With one piece of society out of order, the rest will follow suit and gradually disintegrate until equilibrium is reestablished. Because of the sensitive infrastructures of civilzation, individuals looking to integrate into their respective community will try to find their niche and use it to establish important roles so they can become an essential part of their surroundings.
In a more restrictive setting like prison, it is more difficult to establish the same homogeneity because the individuals that make up that society are individuals who have already disrupted the civility in mainstream. Moreover, in Shawshank Redemption, two characters, Red and Brooks, learn to integrate themselves into the Prison community and create a sense of equilibrium without completely disrupting their already uncertain environment.

The character Red in Shawshank Redemption utilizes his ability to network as well as his rapport with other prisoners to become a staple within the prison community. Known as "the guy to go to when you need something", Red establishes himself as a respected member of this society and, in turn, offers stability to the rest of the prison population by offering his services to individuals in efforts to create a more comfortable and consistent environment. Although it is clear that some of the objects Red obtains for his fellow inmates are unacceptable - for example, the posters of popular female actresses he secures over the years for Andy Dufresne - it is generally accepted by other members of the prison population as to not throw off the normalcy amongst the other inmates throughout Shawshank.

Brooks also represented the key points of functionalism. Brooks, an older prisoner who had spent a majority of his life in prison, also had become a functioning member of Shawshank. He was solely in charge of maintaining the Prison library and rarely was his respected role as the librarian challenged by either the prison population or the employees. More interesting, however, was that while the prison essentially relied on Brooks to provide a service for them, Brooks also relied on the prison environment. After being institutionlized for a number of years, Brooks adapted to life as a prisoner and, eventually, being a prisoner was the only role he knew. Further, his status allowed him to feel fulfillment within the confined and depressing conditions in which he lived. However, once he was released into the free world, Brooks lost his function and importance. Upon returning to mainstream society, he had to reconfigure his mind frame to one in which he had not known for a decades. As his fulfillment waned, so did his function. Unfortunately, he inevitably committed suicide because he could not find the same equilibrium he had felt for so long in prison. Both Brooks and Red exemplified how, in Functionalism, several different parts make up a society and have a function that adds to its stability. Additionally, because of the purpose they...

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