The Red Badge of Courage

4 April 2015
This paper is a review of Stephen Crane’s book, The Red Badge of Courage.

This paper is an extensive analysis of the Crane’s breakthrough novel on the American Civil War. “The Red Badge of Courage” was one of the first books about the Civil War that was written in a non-Romantic, but Realistic style. This style is called Naturalism, and this novel embodies all of its tenets. The author uses examples from the novel to illustrate how the main character undergoes a massive transformation during the course of the war. This is used to demonstrate how differently war was viewed, and how for the first time, it was not glamorized.
“Crane could not have written a Romantic novel that would have allowed us to understand how a man like Fleming could be transformed by battle and come to substitute an entirely different set of ideals for the ones that he once held. The Romantic novel ” like all novelistic forms ” has a number of conventions attached to it (indeed in their collectively these conventions can be said to make up the Romantic novel). Chief among these conventions is the idea that the hero (or heroine) must be unwavering. Indeed within the Romantic tradition we learn that we can recognize the hero because s/he is the one who does not change, who maintains the same ideals from the prologue to the epilogue. Crane’s Fleming does not do so, and so could not be the hero of a Romantic novel. Crane had therefore two possible literary courses open to him: He could make Fleming an anti-heroic figure or he could write a different type of novel. He chose the latter course.”
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