In Stephen Crane's novel "The Red Badge of Courage", we examine the episodes of war through the eyes of the main character, Henry Fleming. Because the book is rather vague about many details, we don't know how old Henry is, what he looks like, or where he comes from. We do know that Henry is from somewhere in New York and that he was raised by his mother. Although some people argue that throughout the novel Henry matures and becomes a better person, facts from the book show just the opposite. Henry is a conceited , smug young man who sees himself as a martyr and a hero; when in fact he is a coward.
Henry begins his journey by signing up for the Union army. While this may seem like a brave step, Henry takes it for the wrong reasons. He is unsure of the Union cause, and without really understanding what he was fighting for, Henry saw visions of himself as a hero. Henry's thoughts of war are rather distorted: He had read signs of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures, extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds(Crane, 3). This simply shows that Henry had romanticized the was to something of a glorious adventure in his head.
Even when his mother tries to give him rational advice, Henry sat disappointed, expecting a speech on heroism and pride.
When Henry and his regiment (the 304th New York) finally integrate into camp life, he begins to question himself. His regiment had been static for a long time and
Henry becomes bored and unhappy. For time he begins to question his bravery and he feels rather insecure. In the regiments first battle, Henry fights well. His admiration for himself reaches a disgusting level: He felt that he was a fine fellow. He saw himself even with those ideals that he had considered far beyond him. He smiled in deep gratification
(Crane, 30). In this passage one can see Henry beginning to falsely view himself as a hero. At the beginning of the 304th New York regiment's second battle, Henry notices that two other soldiers are running in fear of the fight. He suddenly becomes rather scared and flees the battle as well. He tries to rationalize his actions to himself by saying: Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
The first time Henry's flaw gets him in trouble is in chapter 10 and when he gets his chance to go into battle he flees. He at first thinks the war is boring but he soon learns that war is very frightening. When Henry flees he also shows insecurity when he tries to make up an excuse for why he wasn't with the rest of the regiment. Henry thinks very poorly of himself at this point and really anyone would run from a war, I don't think he was ready.
Henry is somewhat naïve, he dreams of glory, but doesn't think much of the duty that follows. Rather than a sense of patriotism, it is clear to the reader that Henry goals seem a little different, he wants praise and adulation. "On the way to Washington, the regiment was fed and caressed for station after station until the youth beloved
In fact, Henry’s transformation from cowardice to bravery is portrayed through Henry’s change in thoughts. For example, Henry conveys cowardice after the second battle in the book. After Henry runs away from battle he thinks that “he had fled with discretion and dignity” (Crane 121). Henry portrays cowardice by running away from his problems and trying to convince himself that he did the right thing. However, Henry grows more
The Red Badge of Courage - Henry is No Hero In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane explores the theme of courage and heroism in depth. He develops these themes through the main character, Henry Fleming. Henry is a nave young man faced with the harsh realities of war, in this book, some argue that Henry is transformed into a heroic "quiet manhood" while others see Henry as the same young man who ran from battle in the beginning of the book. I think Henry doesn't change, his heroic status acquired at the end of the book isn't truly him, instead he is motivated by fear of dying and being rejected by his fellow soldiers.
Before his fear overtakes him and he flees from battle, his participation in the very first mistake leads to an understanding that he is not just one soldier, but part of a larger, amorphous whole; "he was welded into a common personality which was dominated by a single desire.” One soldier can rarely make a difference, but as a group, they can charge and repulse the enemy to emerge victorious or suffer defeat. Whether or not Henry's fellow troops are heroes or cowards, they are a powerful unit and they must rely upon each other. Each soldier has a duty to act according to the will of his or her regiment. To fully express this mutual dependency for the group, Henry compares being separated from his regiment to being
... sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother… And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks / That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s Day” (4.3.58-67). Henry produces strong prose that sets the tone of a victor’s fantasy and gives his soldiers the incentive to fight, for he emphasizes that the battle will give them an accomplishment to be proud of and honored to be a part of. He also invokes the idea of brotherhood, taking away the hierarchy and placing himself on the same level as his soldiers.
Having read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and the exploits of Greek warriors, and, as well, longing to see such, Henry enlisted into the Union army, against the wishes of his mother. Before his departure, Mrs. Fleming warned Henry, "...you must never do no shirking, child, on my account. If so be a time comes when yeh have to be kilt or do a mean thing, why, Henry, don't think of anything `cept what's right..." Henry carried with himself this counsel throughout his enlistment, resulting in his questioning himself on his bravery. As a sign of Henry's maturation, he began to analyze his character whilst marching, while receiving comments from his brethren of courage in the face of all adversity, as well as their fears ...
Henry signed up even though his mother told him not to. After he went with his regiment, they were camped on a riverbank for a few weeks. Lately, there’s been a rumor that they will be in combat soon. Many of his friends say that if many people desert, he will also desert.
When Henry came back to the regiment after being lost he had gotten his “red badge of courage”. If you read the book you can tell that he had wanted a “red badge of courage” for a long time. After he got it everyone looked differently at him, he also seemed more confident. The way I see it is that this was Henry's way of coming back and making himself feel better after running away during the battle. But getting it helped him have the courage to go back to the regiment and not feel guilty.
In the beginning of the book, Henry felt that the best option for him was to enroll into the war. It was something that he was able to do and something that he could come back with honor. He feels that there’s nothing else for him to do. “He felt that in this crisis his laws of life were useless.” (12) He just lost in himself, he feels like a thrown out a piece of bread. To serve one purpose. “He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of which he was a part- a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country- was in crisis.” (49) After joining the army, he feels that it’s their
War changes a person in ways that can never be imagined. Living in a war as well as fighting in one is not an experience witnessed in everyday life. Seeing people die every time and everywhere you go can be seen as an unpleasant experience for any individual such as Henry. The experiences that Henry had embraced during the Vietnam War have caused him to become an enraged and paranoid being after the war. It has shaped him to become this individual of anxiety and with no emotions. The narrator says:
King Henry is known for his famous speeches. He speaks of honor, courage, and dying with honor, mostly dying while serving your kingdom. In his speeches, however, his true nature is not revealed. He speaks to inspire soldiers and men going to war, but he is just fulfilling his obligations as king. Henry is far from a hopeless romantic. We feel his passion more so when he is speaking to the soldier on the battlefield in opposed to his speech with Catherine about marriage and France. Though the patriotic speeches he gives are inspiring and
He begins to talk about his doubts and fears to the Dukes of Gloucester and Bedford. After talking to them, he disguises himself and goes for a walk around his men's campus. He meets his old friend pistol, who does not recognise him and they begin talking. Henry does this to find out how his men truly feel about him and all the fighting. He is put in a very difficult situation further in the scene as he meets some men who don't think to highly of him and even mock him. He is forced to hear their opinions of him and does not punish the men for their hatred or disrespect. This is very noble of him and truly shows how much of a great leader he really was. He has spoken to some men who don't like him and who have insulted him yet he did nothing about it. He just listened and defended 'The King' where he could perfectly exemplifying him as a great
Henry Fleming’s growth is demonstrated after the first battle when he becomes mentally stronger and surmounts his fear of being a coward. Henry Fleming is a romantic dreamer, inspired by visions of a chivalric type of warfare in which he becomes a mighty hero (Solomon). He reads of “marches, sieges, conflicts, and longed to see it all. (Crane, 4)” He never knows where he is going or what is expected of him until the order comes. As a “fresh fish” (Crane, 9), Henry must prove to the veterans and himself that he is not a coward although he is not sure how he will react in real combat. Henry does not have much self-confidence in himself and contains many of his fears in terror of being ridiculed. His insecurity causes him to be in the state of mental agony until he can prove that he is not a coward in the heat of the battlefield. In the first battle, Henry believes he has passed his test and is in an ecstasy of self-satisfaction. “So it was all over at last! The supreme trial had been passed. The red, formidable difficulties of war had been vanquished. (Crane, 45).” His delight with his actions can be seen when he begins to chat with his companions. There was a little flower of confidence growing within ...