Expectations versus Reality in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage

Expectations versus Reality in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage

Length: 811 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Expectations versus Reality in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage


The notion that war is an exciting, romantic endeavor full of glory and heroism has existed for centuries.  Stephen Crane set out to demystify war through his novel The Red Badge of Courage, which traces the experiences of a young soldier in the American Civil War. Crane shows the true nature of war by contrasting Henry Fleming's romantic expectations with the reality that he encounters.

This contrast between romantic vision and cold reality can be seen early in the novel, with Henry's departure from home. Driven to a "prolonged ecstasy of excitement" by the rejoicing crowd, Henry enlists in the army and says good-bye to his mother with a "light of excitement and expectancy in his eyes" (709). He anticipates a romantic, sentimental send-off reminiscent of Spartan times and even goes as far as preparing remarks in advance which he hopes to use "with touching effect" to create "a beautiful scene" (710).

However, Crane presents a more realistic view. At the news of Henry's enlistment, his mother simply says "The Lord's will be done" and continues milking the cow, having previously urged Henry not to be "a fool" by enlisting (709). She then destroys his hopes by offering sensible,...


... middle of paper ...


...es in anguish while his friend Jim suffers and dies.

Today, many of the romantic myths about war have been destroyed through television and movies such as Born on the Fourth of July, which shows war with all its suffering, pain, and death. Yet it was Stephen Crane who, a century ago, deglorified war through the experiences of Henry Fleming. With his frequent contrasts between romantic vision and cold reality, Crane clearly portrays the true horrors of war.

Work Cited

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Geroge McMichael, et al. 5th ed.Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan, 1993. 707-87.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage Essay

- Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage      When reading the Red Badge of Courage, it is necessary to understand the symbolism that Stephen Crane has created throughout the whole book. Without understanding the true intent of color use, this book loses a meaningful interpretation that is needed to truly understand the main character, his feelings and actions. Crane uses very distinct colors in his text to represent various elements that the main character, Henry or “the youth”, is feeling along his adventure of enlisting into battle....   [tags: Stephen Crane Red Badge Courage Essays]

Better Essays
1234 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on The Red Badge Of Courage By Stephen Crane

- War is not meant to be glorified. War is not meant to look easy. Stephen Crane was one of the few authors during his era who realized this fantasy-like aura around war and battles and decided to do something about it. The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, was inspired by Crane’s life and his desire to portray the realistic side of war. According to bio.com, Stephen Crane was born on November 1, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey. He was the 14th and youngest child whose father was a minister and mother was a writer and suffragist....   [tags: Literature, Novel, Stephen Crane, Naturalism]

Better Essays
1055 words (3 pages)

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Essay examples

- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane The first steps in war are the steps of overcoming the line of comfort by solving the self-centered beliefs that will break you in a battlefront. Once overcoming those selfish traits and believe in yourself, that is when one flourish on the battle field....   [tags: crane red badge courage]

Better Essays
880 words (2.5 pages)

The Red Badge Of Courage By Stephen Crane Essay

- The time period in which an author writes a story greatly affects their writing. The time period can depict what their story will be about, or what the story will not discuss. In Stephen Crane’s novel, The Red Badge of Courage, the time period influences the reasoning for the writing of his novel. Crane, who wrote mostly realistic works, wrote the novel to show the real feelings and events taking place during the war. Stephen Crane, being a realist, wrote the novel to reveal the true fear and darkness going on throughout the lives of men on the battlefield during a war, and, to display the courage the men show in battle as well....   [tags: Literature, Writing, Fiction writing, Realism]

Better Essays
1097 words (3.1 pages)

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Essay example

- Many of Stephen Crane’s passions in life strongly influenced his writing of The Red Badge of Courage, most predominately his obsession with war. The Red Badge of Courage, was Crane’s first book about war and arguably is most successful book. His book consisted of so many different styles of writing scholars did not know how to classify it. These styles of writing include realism, naturalism, symbolism, and impressionism. In fact many Civil War Veterans though Crane had fought in the Civil war himself....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Life Passions, Influences]

Better Essays
1959 words (5.6 pages)

Essay on The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane

- In the novel of “The Red Badge of Courage”, the author, Stephen Crane used Henry Fleming to be his subject for how situational surrounding can affect one’s behaviors and characters. Throughout Crane’s novel, he managed to prove that war can have a big effect on people. he used protagonist, Henry Fleming, to support his belief of war thoroughly with details of battles, Henry’s actions during battles and the scenes of dead people. Stephen Crane wrote, “He imagined some strange voice would come from the dead throat and squawk after him in horrible menaces” (Crane 60)....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Naturalism, Realism]

Better Essays
991 words (2.8 pages)

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Essay

- The Red Badge of Courage, a remarkable novel written by Stephen Crane, vividly depicts the inner conflict between Henry Fleming and his own self – doubted soul. Henry romanticizes the view on war by thinking it as a thrill. However, his fantasy views of war are shattered when he actually faces the bloodshed and trauma of war. Battling his own self - doubt and the realities of war, Henry eventually realizes what true courage is and how much courage it takes to become a hero. Self – doubt prevents individuals from progressing in life due to a lack of confidence in one....   [tags: conflict, self, doubt]

Better Essays
518 words (1.5 pages)

Adolescence in Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Essay

- Adolescence in Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane Adolescence brings about many changes as a youth becomes an adult. For many people this passage is either tedious and painful or simple and barely noticeable. The anguish and torture that is usually associated with rites of passage and growing up is visible is Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the novel reveals how the atrocities of war precipitate emotional growth and maturity, as well as acts dignity, individualism, and, of course, courage....   [tags: Red Badge of Courage]

Better Essays
909 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage as Bildungsroman

- Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage as Bildungsroman           In the Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, the main character Henry Fleming joins the army as a young fledging and ultimately matures to a courageous soldier ready for battle. The Red Badge of Courage is considered a Bildungsroman since the reader traces Henry’s development morally, psychologically, and intellectually. Henry progresses from a feared youth who in the course of a couple of days, in the line of fire, has crossed the threshold to manhood....   [tags: The Red Badge of Courage]

Better Essays
1241 words (3.5 pages)

Heroism in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage Essays

- Heroism in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage        The world of Stephen Crane's fiction is a cruel, lonely place. Man's environment shows no sympathy or concern for man; in the midst of a battle in The Red Badge of Courage "Nature had gone tranquilly on with her golden process in the midst of so much devilment" (89). Crane frequently anthropomorphizes the natural world and turns it into an agent actively working against the survival of man. From the beginning of "The Open Boat" the waves are seen as "wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall" (225) as if the waves themselves had murderous intent....   [tags: Red Badge Courage Essays]

Better Essays
1786 words (5.1 pages)