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the ending of shutter island explained

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the ending of shutter island explained.

Martin Scorsese wasn’t kidding when he said
that his neo-noir psychological thriller Shutter
Island would be twice as profitable because
moviegoers would have to see it again just
to understand the ending.
Even a second viewing of the pic will still
leave audiences confused about what was actually
happening to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character,
though.


So, let’s walk through what went down on that
stormy island and see if we will add up
of this enigmatic movie experience.
And of course, there are spoilers ahead.
Finding the truth
There’s still some disagreement over whether
the central character is actually named Edward
Daniels, as he thinks, or if the doctors are
right, and his real name is Andrew Laeddis.
But let’s just call him Teddy, to keep it
simple.


shutter island


After Teddy arrives at the island with his
new partner Chuck, who eventually claims to
be his treating physician, Dr. Sheehan, he’s
slowly reintroduced to his supposed reality.
Teddy is told that he shot his wife after
she lost her mind and drowned their three
children in his lake house.
Taken at face value, it might seem like Teddy
has simply been repressing that memory on
a loop.


Instead of shouldering the blame for his wife’s
mental deterioration and neglect, he’s convinced
himself that he’s a U.S. Marshal investigating
a patient’s disappearance on the island and,
by extension, tracking down the man who burned
his apartment with his wife inside.
That might be all well and good for other
people because there are a lot of patients
that are left to linger in their own little
worlds.


But during his delusions, Teddy tends to exhibit
dangerous behavior and has been scheduled
for a lobotomy as a result.
Dr. Cawley desperately wants to avoid such
a fate by letting him live out this policing
fantasy one last time, on a grander scale,
in hopes of making a mental breakthrough that’ll
stick for good.
Knowing this makes certain earlier moments
make more sense — like the fact that Chuck
struggles to hand over his sidearm to the
guards and the moment when another patient
loses her cool over the mention of his supposed
real name.


The doctors seem to be unsuccessful in the
the end, like Teddy, appears to relapse once again.
But there’s a reason to believe it may have
actually worked this time because he tells
Chuck:
“Which would be worse: to measure as a monster
or to die as a good man?”
Sheehan himself seems to recognize this as
a moment of veiled lucidity.


But has he fully embraced the reality they’ve
given him, or is there an even darker truth
that everyone’s been trying to hide?
Another reality
Even if Teddy has come to terms with his crime,
it’s still possible that he actually did something
worse than what he’s been told.
The warden, who visibly hates him and doesn’t
seem as on-board with the experiment effort
as others, makes mention of the fact that
Teddy’s committed terrible atrocities in his
time.


But even the memory Teddy’s said to be suppressing
isn’t that condemning.
If his wife really did drown his children
and had become so far gone that she wanted
to place their lifeless bodies at the dinner
table, then his reaction is relatively sympathetic.
So, some theorists believe that the story may
have also been a fabrication.
Considering his wife is shown turning to embers
earlier on in his dreams, the movie seems
to suggest that she actually did perish in
the fire that burned down his apartment, as
he’d previously believed.

the ending of shutter island


And since he was convinced it was a man named
Andrew Laeddis who lit the match, he may have
also been correct on that front, too — even
if he just didn’t realize he was after himself
the whole time.
That would certainly explain all the symbolism
of his use of matches in the jail cells and
his pyro treatment of Cawley’s car.
And it would also suggest that perhaps those
three children whose photos were thrust in
his face to convince him of the story was
never actually his.


After all, he did see the same girl in the
wreckage during his flashbacks to the war.
And he never sees the children floating in
his lake until he’s shown those images.
Which means …
Choosing an out
If Teddy did cause his wife’s demise by fire,
he may have done so in a moment of post-traumatic
stress stemming from his service in World
War II.


“I killed a lot of people in the war.”
As he says throughout the movie, he has been
overwhelmed by the depravity he witnessed
while storming the concentration camp and
taking out the guards, even though they were
surrendering to his troops.


Because of his extreme guilt and inability
to accept the crimes he has committed, Teddy
may have chosen to manufacture a false reality
in which he is a U.S. Marshal on the hunt
for his wife’s attacker.


Meanwhile, his doctors may still have conjured
up the story about his wife’s criminality
in order to make him feel better about what
he’d actually done in hopes of him living
out his days on the island in relative peace.
After all, Teddy’s probably not alone in his
PTSD from the war, and maybe he’s just patient
zero in trying to find a humane way to handle
soldiers who do terrible things as a result
of their mentally taxing experiences overseas.
“If we fail with you, then everything we’ve
tried to do here will be discredited.
Everything.”


In the film’s much-debated final scene, that
elaborate brainwashing project appears to
have failed, with Teddy outwardly assuming
the role of U.S. Marshal once again.
And because the doctors are unable to bring
Teddy “back to reality,” they have no choice
but to lobotomize him.


However, what we really see transpire is Teddy
choosing to be lobotomized.
The doctors’ aggressive role play may have
actually worked—just not in the way they
hoped.


the ending of shutter island

Perhaps the reason Teddy seems to accept the
controversial surgical intervention is that
Teddy does, in fact, remember that he burnt
down his apartment building and with his wife
inside.
He may also know that, even if the alternative
the scenario is true, he still attacked his wife
at the lake house and lost his three young
children.
Either way, the pain is too great to bear.
Considering he’s been confronted with two
possible truths about his past violence, and
can live with neither of them, his choice
to embrace the unknown seems pretty understandable.
Thanks for Reading,

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