Dreadful Freedom- an Essay Depicting Andy Dufresne as an Existential Hero

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To be a true existential hero means many things. The majority of a persons actions must be in accordance with the strictly defined beliefs of an existentialist. An existential hero is very conscious of the worth and impact of his choices. He is responsible, lonely, independent, self-reliant and free. Andy Dufresne the protagonist in The Shawshank Redemption written by Stephen King and directed by Frank Darabont exhibits these essential existential qualities. The movie has several existential themes within it, made apparent by Andy’s words and actions. For this reason, it is evident that Andy Dufresne is an existential hero.

In existential philosophy, a great deal of importance is placed on the concept of choice. An existential hero will acknowledge that an individuals decisions belong exclusively to that being. Andy Dufresne never tries to blame external circumstances for the events that led him to prison. He willing admits to Red that through choosing to drive her away he killed his wife. He also doesn’t try to negate the punishment for the murders, for he recognizes that it was his choice to drive to the house of his wife and her lover with a gun, regardless of whether or not he chose to shoot. Even once within Shawshank he continues to take responsibility for his actions. When he breaks the prison rules and locks himself in the warden’s office to play music over the loud speaker, he does not argue his punishment of two weeks in the hole, despite its excessiveness and cruelty. Andy also exhibits the existential-hero view that there is no predetermined order or fate, but rather that a man’s path is self-determining and dependent on his decisions. When the other inmates experience hope through Andy’s music and library, it is a type of passive hope that one day things would become better for them. In contrast, Andy does not leave his fate up to chance, but rather makes choices that allow him to take control of his own life. It is align with existentialism’s...
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