Themes In The Red Badge Of Courage

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In the nineteenth-century war novel The Red Badge of Courage, author Stephen Crane portrays a unique perspective on war uncommon for his time through the experiences of a young Union private, Henry. Crane boldly exposes the horrors of war rather than the commonly proclaimed glory and honor of war, as well as the idea that war allows everyday men “to take measure of themselves.” In the Civil War setting of The Red Badge of Courage, “taking measure of oneself” involves pushing oneself to the limit physically and mentally on the battlefield to determine how courageous or worthy an individual truly is, as demonstrated in the hardships Henry faced throughout the war. However, the idea of war being the true measure of a man holds little truth, as the concept only acknowledges courage in the face of physical danger, ignoring courage in other circumstances. Today’s society, embodied by individualism and diversity, would most likely reject Crane’s limited viewpoint on measuring an individual’s courage and worth. Stephen Crane’s support of the idea that war enables men “to take measure of himself” shows prominently through the many trials Henry faced during his numerous battles. Early in the novel, rookie soldier Henry fled the battle when…show more content…
While Crane’s less heroic vision of war held less popularity than the glorified edition, his viewpoint on measuring a man reflected the belief system instilled in American society during the nineteenth century. Because of this, his ideas no longer hold validity during today’s time and would not be accepted by the people of modern American society. Despite his close mindedness in concern of certain issues, Crane powerfully displays the true horrors of battle and the astounding effect war carries to common
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