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"Be who you are not who you want to be" - Diane

Red Badge of Courage

  • Date Submitted: 01/30/2016 11:07 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.1 
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The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane shows traits of both the realist and naturalist movements in literature.   The major theme of Crane’s novel illustrates the eternal struggle between good and evil in human nature. There are many characteristics in Crane’s novel that would more readily fit within the category of realism: the ordinariness of his characters, the use of dialect, the portrayal of protagonist Henry Fleming as a complex individual, the description of nature as disinterested inhuman affairs, and the positive ending of the story. Realism, often described as ‘slice of life’ or ‘photographic’ writing, attempts to portray life exactly as it is, without twisting it or reworking it to fit it into preconceived notions of what is appropriate or what is aesthetically pleasing.

    In this book, Crane relies on neither the oversimplified rationalism of classicist literature nor the emotional idealism of romantic prose. Instead, he offers realistic, believable characters with average abilities. The soldiers are presented neither as epic heroes nor as bloodthirsty killers; rather, their most noticeable trait is their overwhelming normalcy. The soldiers of Henry’s regiment curse, fight, and argue just like normal people. This down-to-earth, gritty, everyday style is characteristic of realism. A particular convention used by Crane in convincing the reader of his characters’ existence is dialect

    The distinctive speech of the soldiers enhances the photographic effect of the novel, lending it authenticity. Another distinctive trait of realism is complexity of character – a trait readily evident in Henry Fleming. As he switches between cowardice and heroism, compassion and contempt, and optimism and pessimism, the reader observes that he is more than just a stereotype. He is a person with fears, hopes, dreams, and foibles. Lastly, nature is often portrayed as indifferent or disinterested in the affairs of humankind. Whereas naturalism involves emphasis on...

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