Critical Analysis Of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge Of Courage

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Red Badge of Courage was written by Stephen Crane in the late 18th century, who was a master at creating scenes such as combat and death into a story that is realistic. The Red Badge of Courage is historical literature that is categorized as historical fiction and war story novel. The definition of a war story is defined as a novel where it takes primary action and located on the battlefield. This is related to the main character of the novel Henry Fleming who was a young man who was a part of the Union Army during the Civil War period. At the beginning of the novel Henry Fleming was afraid to be at the front line of the battlefield, but throughout the novel, he began to become more methodical, considered, and think every of his action carefully because he wanted to be honor by the peoples and doesn’t want others to consider him a coward man. Isolation played a big part in the novel as the character Henry Fleming. 

The main character Henry Fleming was a young man fighting in the civil war, the moment he steps in the battlefield he has always doubted himself, saying that he’s not strong enough, not brave enough, and he doesn’t have the ability to fight for anyone’s life. In the novel, he always described him as “the metal outcast” because he was feeling the emotion that others were not feeling such as fear and doubtfulness. As described in the novel, Fleming was always unsure about his action, he hesitated about his action because he knows one small mistake will lead to a big problem. As Fleming spend his time being alone, he begins to sort of his concern step by step taking him time to understand himself and the world around him and to decide if he wanted to coward back or to become someone other can honor. Courage signifies the main character of the novel. Henry Fleming, at the beginning of the novel, Fleming was shamefaced because he felt like he was not a real man compared to rest of his regiment. 

As the novel proceeds, the main character Henry Fleming do too, he went from unassertive to someone who thinks he is showing his valor because he didn’t want to be recognized as a mouse whose always hiding. In the novel narrator said, “At the time he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage”, to Henry Fleming, the definition of courage means something totally different for him, just as described in the quote stated in his definition he felt like other soldiers were happy to have torn bodies because it represents their valor, to him a small wound would wash away his cowardice and his shame but it really doesn’t. 

In the novel The Red Badge of Courage, Henry Fleming’s transformation throughout the story is tremendous, he went from a childish and immature adolescent to a person who can be honored by others. At the beginning of the novel, the characteristic of Fleming was coward and selfish due to his immaturity, but over the course of the novel, he learned that he could overcome his own fear and become brave even if the situation his facing might affects his own life, he didn’t care because he wants to be respected. As state in the novel, “There was the delirium that encounters despair and death and is heedless and blind to the odd. It is a temporary but sublime absence of selfishness”, this quote was toward the end of the novel, when Fleming finally notice his cowardice and wanted to get rid of his cowardice, through his changed he learned that everyone including himself will feel the same emotion such as the feeling of unsure and confused, he learned that all men are not all born to be powerful and fearless. 

Over the course of the novel, one chief objection I had the novel The Red Badge of Courage is the main character Henry Fleming, I disliked this character very much. At the beginning of the novel, Henry Fleming was a coward and selfish man because he was always unsure about his action and only wanted respect because it looks good. As stated in the novel, “He now thought that he wished he was dead. He believed he envied those men whose bodies lay strewn over the grass of the fields and on the fallen leaves of the forest”, in this quote he did not only disguised his regiment, he also disrespected them because in Fleming’s childish mind the solider is dead because they wanted to, but he doesn’t see the other part about his regiment using their life fighting for other safety as what he was also supposed to do. While reading the novel The Red Badge of Courage one shortcoming that appeared in the novel would be the usage of large words. While reading the novel it was hard for me to not stop and look up some of the definition for the word. One of the examples would be, “From his home, he had gone to seminary to bid adieu to many schoolmates. They had thronged about him with wonder and admiration”, in this quote, it was hard for me to not stop and reread a couple time to fully understand its meaning. 

There were many interesting parts of the novel The Red Badge of Courage, author Stephen Crane made the historical fiction to be very realistic and connecting. In the novel, the story revolves around the main character Henry Fleming, about how he transformed from an immature, coward, and selfish adolescent to mature, intelligent and careful adult. Crane stated, “He suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He came not a man but a member – For someone moments he could not flee no more than a finger can commit a revolution from a hand”, in this quote it described the action Fleming took to become less coward and selfish, this time he had no other choice, he had to go with whatever choice it was put out there for him to choice. 

All novel has merit and fault, one fault that appeared in the novel would be the characteristic of the main character isn’t really realistic. For example, “regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way – he wished that he, too, had a wound”, in this quote Fleming is jealous of the soldiers wound, comparing Fleming to other solider, his very different almost not very realistic because when someone join the battle/war their wish is to fight for the country and be able to come back alive and unwounded, but instead Fleming wanted to be wounded so he can show his valor. 

In conclusion, this historical and war novel written by Stephen Crane was published in the late eighteenth century. The main conflict of the novel revolves around the main character Henry Fleming, his most important problem was to decide between either survival instinct or to become a real soldier fighting for himself, fight for his dream, and fight for the country. As the novel proceeds on, the character Henry Fleming suffer through his action, decision, and his desire to change himself into a true man. Due to the extreme desire of becoming an true man, Henry Fleming decide to not run away and face his fear which was standing on the battlefield fighting for everyone, at the end of the novel, he did not only overcome his fear, he also makes it out of the battle alive. After the battle, he understood that fear can also be overcome because he overcomes his own fear he fulfilled his wish to become a true man. 


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