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The Red Badge of Courage - Critical Essay

  • Date Submitted: 12/01/2010 10:46 AM
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The Red Badge of Courage: Critical Essay

In the Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane demonstrates his use of naturalism in his story.   The novel shows the struggles of Henry during his time in war, and he constantly struggles as he tries to find who he is and who he wants to be.   Henry joined the war because he wanted to be more mature and grow as a new man.   Henry also commits actions that don’t help him achieve who he wants to become. Henry struggles as he feels guilty from fleeing the battle. While Henry is in the wilderness, Crane uses nature as naturalism and makes nature a model for Henry’s acts.

Naturalism is known as a form of realism in which it is held that a writer should adopt an objective view toward the material written about. In chapter 7 after Henry fled the battle, he finds out that his regiment had won after all, and as he tramples through the forest Henry throws a pinecone at a squirrel. When Henry does this, he soon realizes nature was giving him a sign when the squirrel did not stand and fight, but ran as fast as his legs could carry him.  

As Stephen Crane continues to grow who Henry is in this story, Crane shows both weaknesses and strengths in is development of the theme of manhood. For example, strengths of the theme are: how Crane uses nature as a model for Henry to become who he wants to be, how Crane uses imagery in the war with animals to enhance the war; when Henry went back to the battle, and last how Crane's use of imagery, color, and wording showed how Henry's perspective changes to a certain understanding and acceptance to who he is. Weaknesses Crane shows are: awkward grammar such as the way the characters talk in the book because it tends to be confusing in some parts in the book, and the fact that you would not know the battle was “The Battle: Chancellorsville.”

Naturalism relates to the theme of manhood because Henry was inexperienced and this was probably why he fled from the battle because he did not know what to...


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