Hope is often used as a word for the future. It refers to a moment not yet lived, a wish for what is to come. But perseverance through the form of action in the present, is what enables hope to transcend our minds and enter into reality. But can hope be a bad thing? And where is the line between the good and the bad?

This is one of the many questions Frank Darabont’s classic film Shawshank Redemption attempts to answer. The central character, Andy Dufresne, is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for a crime he did not commit. Despite this unjust imprisonment, Andy maintains an unwavering sense of hope. He inspires those around him with his optimism and resilience. His determination to prove his innocence and his faith in the possibility of a better future are emblematic of the power of hope.

But at one point in the film, Andy’s close friend Red says, “Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You’d better get used to that idea.”

This monologue occurs early in the film when Red is explaining the harsh reality of life in Shawshank State Penitentiary to new inmates. He is essentially cautioning them against holding onto hope because, in the prison environment, it often leads to disappointment and despair.

However, as the film progresses, Red’s perspective on hope undergoes a transformation influenced by Andy Dufresne’s unwavering belief in the power of hope and redemption.

This is where the difference between the good and the bad kind of hope lies. The dangerous hope that Red was talking about was the kind of hope that fails to evolve into any kind of substantial reality and remains a wish. But through the course of the film, Andy shows Red why hope is only a bad thing when it isn’t acted upon or when it is rooted in something unsubstantial or temporary.

Andy’s hope is rooted in the fact that he has a just cause to fight for – his life. He knows he was wrongfully convicted and therefore he has a enough of a ‘why’ to continue to fight and persevere. The difference between the good and bad kind of hope in the film was action. Andy acted on his hope which meant it would no longer remain as a wish.

Our minds are constantly occupied with hopes and wishes for the future, but those hopes can often blend into fantasy if we’re not careful. But if our hope for the future is rooted in something that is truly worth fighting for, then we have enough of a reason to take the required and non negotiable action, that evolves that hope into fulfilment, and gratitude for the present.


Written by Ben Joshua

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