Courage In Stephen Crane's The Red Badge Of Courage

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Courage is an ideal created in one’s mind that can only be gained through self-acceptance. Courage can be a trait others see, however the question is whether or not one sees it in oneself. Stephen Crane’s artfully crafted novel, The Red Badge of Courage, depicts this inner conflict through a young solider in search of glory on the battlefield, Henry Fleming. Set during the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863), the raging Civil War provides the perfect backdrop for the novel. Stephen Crane published The Red Badge of Courage in October 1895 and masterfully portrayed his ‘Youths’ internal struggle. In The Red Badge of Courage Henry realizes that courage is achieved through admitting mistakes and correcting them, not by false means and selfish motives. …show more content…

The type of psychological badge that Henry wears throughout the story demonstrates his feelings towards his own actions. Henry begins to wish “he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage”(47) and by doing so he is demonstrating his faulty conception of courage. Eventually, Henry does gain a ‘red badge of courage’ but he has obtained it through false means and a string of lies told to his friends, thus, instead of creating a wound of courage he began to wear the “sore badge of his dishonor” (58). Crane uses the conception of these badges of courage and dishonor to demonstrate the need for courage to be obtained in a way that is noble and that oneself can be proud to have achieved. Courage can be a virtue others see but it also must be a virtue one sees in him/herself. Similarly, the constant symbolism of nature contributes to the outlook Henry has himself, courage, and the truths of war. After battle Henry is astonished by nature’s indifference, Crane wrote, “As he gazed around him the youth felt a flash of astonishment at the blue, pure sky and the sun gleaming on the trees and fields...Nature had gone tranquilly on with her golden process in the midst of so much devilment” (Crane 38). Henry is astonished that after so much bloodshed and death nature appeared indifferent and carried on. This illustrates how Henry believes in the importance of himself, it amazes him that nature is so ignorant or oblivious to the obvious terror and “devilment” around him. “New eyes were given to him. And the most startling thing was to learn suddenly that he was very insignificant.” (Crane 100). At this point in the novel, Henry realizes his insignificance, that even war is not the biggest thing in the entire universe in natures eyes. Soon his conception of courage becomes even more depleted. However, by the end of the novel we see a significant change

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