Man: “Hope is a Dangerous Thing”

The Shawshank Redemption

Recognize the line?  Red (Morgan Freeman), spoke these words to Andy (Tim Robbins) in “Shawshank Redemption”.  Andy had just finished up a week “in the Hole” (a brutal isolation penalty).  Andy and his friends were sitting in the cafeteria:

Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company. [points and taps his head, pauses]
Andy: It was in here. [gestures over his heart]
Andy: And in here. [looks around, referring to Shawshank Penitentiary] That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you. Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here (referring to Shawshank Penitentiary).
Andy: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy: Forget that there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside…that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What are you talking about?
Andy: Hope.
Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no place here. Better get used to the idea.
Andy: Like Brooks did?

Great movie.  I cautiously recommend “Shawshank Redemption” because of the language and the violence.  As for HOPE, I definitely recommend it.   Part of what Red was talking about is death; or numbness (is that a word?).  I can see one’s reasoning about shutting down hope while one is in a penitentiary: just be dead; become numb.  And, for that matter, this choice to have hope reflects the courage of Andy … to live with hope, in such a dark & depraved place. 

Hope has the potential to disappoint us.  And hope sets us free.


  1. Yes, numbness is a word…:). I love this movie and for that very reason, the fact that Andy held on to hope. Also hope is contagious. Andy’s hope led to Red gaining hope.

  2. I feel like Andy. With all you know that is good… Stored in your heart … No matter how bad circumstances get… They can not take that away from you… And if dying is the final result… Knowing you are going to a Greater Place…. They still can not win… Big thought in to few words:))) Do not let anyone destroy your good stored in your Heart

    1. As I move on along this road, I encounter more people who have virtually the same perspective about Shawshank Redemption. Yes, unforgettable. I dare say that it was around 2002 that I saw the movie for the first time. I am blessed when I visit your blog, by the way … and I heartily recommend Lady In The House for good writing, authenticity, and enjoyable content. Keep writing.

  3. Rich thoughts. I couldn’t imagine living in prison like that day in, day out, without hope. I also can’t imagine the wild courage to keep it alive. You have to hate where you are enough.

    “Hope has the potential to disappoint us.” Right. And indeed, hope is the runway to freedom.

    1. Quite delayed in my response, HW: apologies. Thanks for taking time to visit, and then it’s a bonus to get some input from you, the muse-stuff that has the potential to make me a better writer. So glad that you liked the hope-thoughts in the context of Shawshank. Two things in particular you communicated: 1) one must “hate where you are enough” to keep the hope alive; and 2) hope … a runway to freedom. Thanks. Peace.

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