Andy Dufresne, a mild mannered New England banker, is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Despised at first by the other inmates because of his introverted manner, Andy slowly forges an unlikely friendship with Red, a seasoned lifer and his gang. Soon, Andy also becomes popular with the prison guards, including the vicious Captain Hadley who offers him protection against the jail's rougher convicts in exchange for financial counseling. The prison warden also takes advantage of Andy's banking knowledge by exchanging privileges for creative bookkeeping. Over a twenty year period, Andy is able to maintain his sanity and dignity in prison not by physical force but by mental force. His smarts and confidence keep him going and he is able to teach the other prisoners that hope is the ultimate means of survival.