The movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ portrays depth in human beings and the real meaning of “hope”. The prison drama shown in the movie is commendable. It stands out from the usual movies because of its deep-meaning intent and different background of the plot. Although most people cannot relate to the characters, it leaves a strong impression on the viewers and brings them closer to the plot. There is no use of special effects in the movie, yet it encompasses friendship, isolation, freedom, and salvation in its true sense. These are the movies that people remember even after 50 years!

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Prison Architecture

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Shawshank State Prison_©

The prison in Shawshank was built in Romanesque, Victorian Gothic, and Queen Anne style of architecture. The space provided inside the prison was different from the conventional world.  It could envelope deep secrets and the ill-behavior of prisoners in its depth of walls.

The walls were made up of stone and were tall depicting the rigidity and solidity of the space. They were uncanny and a simulacrum of a safe space for the inmates. The prison shown in the movie impelled the prisoners to behave in an established manner and built a hyperreal world wherein they are only comfortable living behind the wall.

Lifestyle of Prisoners

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Shawshank State Prison_©

The convicts were following a uniform and invariant regime daily. They start their morning in their cells and head to the common bathing area. They walk in queues one behind the other with the same person ahead and behind them every day. There is a huge dining hall where all the inmates gather to take their food and eat on large dining tables. They spend the rest of the day working at the laundry, breaking large pieces of stones, housekeeping, and helping in the construction of new buildings if any. They are allowed to play a sport or socialize with other inmates for some time of the day. At night, they report to their respective officials and sleep in their incubators alone. There is nothing new in their day.

The Behavior of Prisoners in different spaces

Prison Cells

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Rita Hayworth poster_©

The convicts were caged in their cells in the night. This was the part of their day wherein they were all by themselves and free to do anything within the four walls. Every individual customized their space according to their liking as they could acquire some homeliness inside the prison. Some stuck pamphlets or scribbled their name on the cement wall or played an instrument or made rock pieces. They had a single bed inside the cell where they could rest and sleep or read books. 

Cells are an important part of prison architecture as the inmates get time to rethink their crime and its consequences of staying away from the family and getting deprived of their freedom. This space helps the inmates to believe in salvation.

Gathering Spaces

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The Shawshank Redemption_©

A large dining hall is shown in The Shawshank Redemption as the place where all the convicts would assemble to have their food and talk with their fellow mates. Gathering spaces involve the prisoners to obtain the freedom of socializing and act as a breakout area from their time in cells. 

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Shawshank Redemption’s Prison has been Renovated for Tourism_©

There is a large field outside the hall where all the prisoners gather to play a sport and breathe in the fresh air. 

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Films In Films_©

Movie nights were also arranged once in a while in a projector room to enjoy multimedia. In my opinion, human beings cannot survive in isolation. Thus, designing community spaces in prison is integral to keep the social man active, but high security and discipline can also not be overlooked.


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A Great Short Paper About Prison Education_©

The prisoners were kept busy by making them do laundry, housekeeping, cleaning, working at the library, etc. These activities would keep them engaged and help them to pass time. These activities were conducted all over the prison in The Shawshank Redemption and under the supervision of the officials. Construction of the library inside the prison was shown to be evolving for the convicts. They could educate themselves and possess a degree during their imprisonment to start anew after they enter the world outside the prison. The behavior of prisoners in the library was very civilized. It can be concluded that the library is an ethical inclusion to the prison.

The Hole

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Getting Into Character_©

In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, the Hole was shown as an isolated chamber with no light and half the size of the prison cells. It had only one window from where they would receive food. The Hole was a severe punishment given to the prisoners if they break any regulation. It was inhumane to send people to such a space. The prisoners seemed to fear this space.

Life of Prisoners after Imprisonment

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)_©

The entire plot of the movie shows how the prisoners are treated inside the prison. Strict supervision and norms are followed by them. They have to take permission for every slight activity they wish to do during their sentence period. Thus, they start living a hyperreal life within the boundaries of four walls and dependant on their officials for orders. People who spent numerous years in Shawshank got fully acquainted with their established regime. Hence, it became difficult to live outside the prison in the free world. They faced ill social treatment and a lack of decision-making. They lost belief in themselves and faced fear to face the world.

The Shawshank Redemption Movie Guide_©

The cinematography of the movie fits perfectly well with the plot and the characters. It has successfully delineated the philosophical and psychological aspects of prison life. Realistic drama and accurate meaning of the word ‘redemption’ are shown in the movie. It is worth the time and a must-watch!


Smriti considers Architecture to be an expression of art and is on the road of building many such expressions for the world to experience. She is passionate and motivated to explore the countless angles of architecture design and media. She stays positive and loves to travel.

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