Red badge of courage essays heroism

  • The Red Badge of Courage - Henry is No Hero Essay.
  • An act of heroism and cowardice essay.
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Log In Sign Up. Jason Hirthler. Jason A. Hirthler Dr. The old notion of courage and heroism as a product of war is cast aside—war is exposed as an event that produces victims, not victors. There are three such contaminating contextual elements that must be removed before we can, according to Crane, sufficiently judge the action of battle.

The erasure of the most common elements of literary narrative—cultural context and personal detail—proceeds from the macro to the micro, moving from the elision of the national dialogue at the macro level to the elimination of human reason at the micro level. One notable absence in The Red Badge of Courage is the utter lack of political context. The book is obviously about the Civil War, about a great battle at Chancellorsville, but neither the war itself nor the relevance of Chancellorsville to it is noted.

Thus Crane as author provides no foreknowledge for the reader to bias his or her assessment of the action; he strips the action of the military backstory and character of both the Union and the Confederacy.

The Red Badge of Courage

Neither Robert E. Lee nor Ulysses S. Grant, the historical giants of the war, are mentioned, since their names would instantly conjure either heroism or cruelty and color the entirety of one side of the war, again prejudicing the reader.

In fact, at one point late in the novel, Crane portrays Henry gazing across the field at the gray-uniformed flagbearer Crane This scene serves to balance the possibly existing prejudice readers might have for the Union; both sides fight with equal conviction, and those convictions are never unfurled and analyzed for their moral rectitude, leaving the reader to acknowledge and admire simple conviction itself. Only at the beginning of the novel is a black solider deliberately portrayed by his color.

A rather innocuous scene, nowhere in the next pages is the distinction between white and black mentioned. This cannot be mere oversight; Crane was deliberately stripping the war of its cultural context, just as he absented the military context. There were and are few cultural issues as volatile as slavery. Its absence from the novel forces the reader to focus on the fighting at the expense of the rightness of the Union cause, or the wrongness of the Confederacy cause.

It is a form of narrative leveling that expertly permits the reader a newfound clarity of vision in the evaluation of violence. If Crane chose to trim away the fat of cultural and military context, he utilized this pruning technique to even greater effect at the level of the individual. From the very beginning of the novel, the characters of the novel are stripped of their cultural or personal characteristics.

In most chapters, they are even denied their own names Sadler Throughout the story, they are given generic names, just as the Union and Confederacy were denied their proper appellations. But the lack of personalization again makes the reader simply recognize the basic humanity of these soldiers and elide from consideration their personal character.

Finally, we arrive at the interior psychology of the man. The point is that man moves from the high ground of human reason to the base level of mindless rage. In the first half of the novel, Henry Fleming is consumed by conscience Crane 9. He wrestles vainly with this dilemma, since ultimately there is no answer shy of an actual battle.

Crane beautifully twists the storyline by giving Fleming a successful first experience of battle, where he fires his musket alongside his comrades. But shortly thereafter, the battle suddenly resumes, and Henry flees. Henry even rationalizes his flight by claiming a superior assessment of the situation—he thought they were about to be thrashed Crane Dillingham trenchantly suggests that Fleming flees because he is too caught up in trying to reason out his fate.

Logical thought, we come to find out, has no place on the battlefield.

Red Badge Of Courage: Henry Fleming Analysis | SchoolWorkHelper

It is after he is struck by another fleeing soldier and obtains a head wound that he begins the descent from reason to animality Marcus and Mordecai The pains of the body begin to dominate his thoughts as he wanders back to his regiment. His logical side then completely deserts him in battle as he abandons himself to his hatred.

His anger and lack of fear at being killed matches the evident mentality of his entire regiment. Both terms conjure the sub-human, the wild irrational element of life. Only by descending to this level had Henry fought bravely. It was simply the response of his organism to its environment. No credit could rightly be taken or claimed.

Crane elides human reason from the field of fire. Henry is a conceited, smug young man who sees himself as a martyr and a hero; when in fact he is a coward. Henry begins his journey by signing up for the Union army. While this may seem like a brave step, Henry takes it for the wrong reasons.

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He is unsure of the Union cause, and without really understanding what he was fighting for, Henry saw visions of himself as a hero. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures, extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds Crane, 3. This simply shows that Henry had romanticized the war to something of a glorious adventure in his head. Even when his mother tries to give him rational advice, Henry sat disappointed, expecting a speech on heroism and pride.

Red Badge Of Courage: Henry Fleming Analysis

When Henry and his regiment the th New York finally integrate into camp life, he begins to question himself. His regiment had been static for a long time and Henry becomes bored and unhappy. For time he begins to question his bravery and he feels rather insecure. His admiration for himself reaches a disgusting level: He felt that he was a fine fellow.

An act of heroism and cowardice essay

He saw himself even with those ideals that he had considered far beyond him. He smiled in deep gratification Crane, In this passage one can see Henry beginning to falsely view himself as a hero. He suddenly becomes rather scared and flees the battle as well. He tries to rationalize his actions to himself by saying: Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about to smite him between the eyes Crane, However, when Henry discovers that they had won the battle, he feels angry and jealous of the other soldiers: The youth cringed as if discovered at a crime…The imbecile line had remained and become victorious…He turned away, amazed and angry.

He felt that he had been wronged Crane Now, Henry is not fleeing in terror, but in shame. He is trying to run away from his own cowardice.

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He begins to pity himself and lose faith in his own romanticized reasons for enlisting. After walking through the woods for a long time, Henry came upon a dead soldier. The sight of the body scares him and again he flees from the harsh realities of war. Later in the novel, Henry is knocked in the head with a rifle by a retreating Union soldier. Henry is ashamed of the wound and becomes embarrassed and scared that the other soldiers will tease him.