Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Analysis of "The Red Badge of Courage"

"The Red Badge of Courage," by Stephen Crane, is a story about a man who is going into a battle in the civil war, while describing to the reader the condition and feeling of himself as the main character(Crane 493). After reading "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane, it is easy to see how the story not only reflects realism, but it also reflects naturalism as well. Naturalism "has been devoted to documenting, with apparent objectivity, the extreme experiences of characters existing on the margins of society (Quinn)." For example, compared to realism, the conflict in naturalism stories is usually if not always between man and nature. That fact is what gives away the fact the this story is a naturalism story. The conflict is clearly between man and nature. For example, the author quotes, " Buried in the smoke of many rifles, his anger was directed not so much against the men whom he knew were rushing toward him as against the swirling battle phantoms which were choking him, stuffing their smoke robes down his parched throat(Crane 493)." From this quote, it is extremely easy to see how this story is a naturalism piece of writing. In the story when the man is in battle, he claims that his anger is not directed towards the many men that are shooting at him with their rifles, but rather towards the smoke in the air, which is making it extremely hard for the character to breathe. One of the characteristics of realism that this story shows evidence of is the feeling that the man who is going into war has. What makes this story truly a realism story is the way the author describes the feeling the man has as he is charging into war. For example, the author quotes, "Presently, he began to feel the effects of the war atmosphere-a blistering sweat, a sensation that his eyeballs were about to crack like hot stones. A burning roar filled his ears(Crane 493)." From this quote it is easy to see why this work is considered realism. This is because in realism, authors tend to see the world how it truly is and rather not how they want it to be(Quinn). This is very unlike romanticism by the way the author speaks about war. If this were to be romanticism, then the author would probably try to find a way to find beauty within war(Quinn). The quote above also proves that the author liked to give detail to his stories by using figurative language. For example, in the above quote, the author uses a metaphor to describe the felling that the main character of the story has in his eyes. This is common in realist writing because when authors wrote works in the realism times, they wanted to make their work as clear as possible to anyone who wrote it. Therefore, authors and poets in the realist times would included a lot of figurative language so that the purpose of the writing would become very clear for the reader or audience.

Crane, Stephen. "The Red Badge of Courage." Glencoe American Literature. comp. Wilhelm, Jeffery. McGraw Hill. Columbus, OH. 2009. pg. 493.

Quinn, Edward. "naturalism." A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Gfflithem0538&SingleRecord=True. Online. February 13, 2011 (Crane)

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