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Red Badge of Courage and Great Expectations
The hero of The Red Badge of Courage, which was written by Stephen Crane in the late 1800s, was a young private named Henry Fleming, who was fighting for the North in the American Civil War. Like Pip, in Great Expectations, Henry was a commoner. He was new to the Army and few people knew his name. The main difference between Henry and the earlier heroes is that Henry was not born with leadership qualities or traits like bravery. In fact, in the first battle he fought, he proved himself to be a coward by running from it.
Henry's flaws were very similar to those of Pip and the Greek heroes. Arrogance was a flaw that many Greek mortal heroes, especially Odysseus and Oedipus, had. When Henry realized that none of his fellow soldiers were aware that he had run from the first battle, he regained his self-pride and self-confidence. Before long, he had convinced himself that he was "chosen of the gods and doomed to greatness." At first, Pip believed that status and wealth determined the "goodness" of a person. Henry had similar illusions. He believed that a war hero was a person who could manage to escape every tight situation he got into, and also a godly figure people looked up to and were fascinated by. His other illusions were that the only the best could survive against the hideous "dragons" of war, and that the enemy was a machine that never tired or lost will to fight.
An important difference between Henry and the Greek heroes was that Henry's flaws were recognized by the people of Crane's day, whereas the Greeks did not see any flaws in their heroes, like Odysseus (they thought traits like arrogance were cool). Another difference between Henry and the Greek heroes can be seen in their heroic acts. Greek war heroes were praised for their outward bravery and military genius (how many enemy soldiers they killed, or how they were able to trick the enemy). Near the end, Henry was a war hero in the eyes of his fellow soldiers and commanding officers (he fought fearlessly and led charges), but what was truly heroic about Henry was the way he changed and developed.
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