A short review by Mrs. Nikita Jain, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, from the viewpoint of Positive mental health.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is a story of two extremes where one person is talking about hope being a dangerous thing that can drive you insane and the other passionately believes in the power of hope. Through the course of the story that person realizes that hope is not a dangerous thing, in fact, it is such a beautiful thing and it is one of the feelings that you should cherish and you should hold close to your heart. It is the journey of that person from believing hope being a dangerous thing to hope being a good thing and that is how hope changes all of us. He is able to find something good and is influenced by it.
Story talks about the young man and successful banker Mr. Andy Dufresne who was wrongfully convicted and was sentenced to life terms in prison at Shawshank for the murder of his wife and her lover. Andy must endure life inside the harsh and corrupt Shawshank prison, but despite this he never loses hope of finding freedom. Hope is an important inspiring idea in this story, as it is what sustains him during the long and difficult years within the prison, and it is the result of this enduring hope that Andy finally finds freedom. He struggles to persevere and maintain hope even under appalling conditions. His strong believe in this idea further fuel his fellow inmate – Red to fight for his freedom who believed in the idea of institutionalization. Hope is such a powerful thing that rigid beliefs can also be challenged and it can transform the individual.
Rita Hayworth again symbolizes hope in the story. Andy places a Rita Hayworth poster in his jail cell. The poster doesn’t just remind him of the outside world and the desire of an inmate to return to a normal life; it hides the tunnel he’s spent 25 years digging with a tiny rock hammer that will lead him back to that very existence. Andy keeps hope alive because of his tunnel and because of his Rita Hayworth poster disguising that dream. Hope is what distinguishes him from his fellow inmates. It’s the thing that keeps him focused and prevents his lapsing into depression or pity. He doesn’t let hope become something abstract that disappears over the years. Instead, he makes it literal, chiseling it out of the wall one hopeful chunk of concrete at a time.
Red’s opinion of hope changes throughout the story. When Andy first tells Red of his dream to go to Mexico, Red says; “Hope is a dangerous thing. It will drive a man insane, it has no place here”. This shows how Red thought that hope was pointless and futile. This also shows how the prison could take away a man’s hope; even turn him bitterly against the idea of it. It is only when Andy eventually makes his escape that the inmates realize how truly powerful hope is. When Red is released from prison and makes his way to Mexico, he says; “I hope the Pacific is as blue as it is in my dreams. I hope.”
Hope is the intrinsic aspiration of attaining one’s wants and needs. In frightening and uncertain times, it’s hard to feel hopeful. Hope an attribute of all human beings that is essential for the development of traits such as perseverance and resilience- the ability to get through tough times and recover more quickly from setbacks, whereas the absence of hope can result in failure, fear, depression, anxiety, despair and even one’s demise. According to the “hope theory” formulated by positive psychologist Charles Snyder, hope gives people the will, determination, and sense of empowerment that allows them to reach their goals. A large body of research on hope demonstrates its power to support mental well-being and aid in the process of recovery. “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free”.
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good things ever dies.