The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane • Personal Life • loved playing soldier as a child • attended a military high school • Professional Life • first novel- Maggie: A Girl of the Streets • funded the publication himself • wrote The Red Badge of Courage for “broad economic appeal” • wrote novel at age 23 • did not have any first-hand military experience • influenced by personal stories & photographs • worked as a war correspondent after novel’s publication
The Red Badge of Courage • Historical Context • presented a view of the Civil War through the eyes of an ordinary man. • not a “romantic….. glowing story” • Setting • Assumed to be the Battle of Chancellorsville • Literary Context • Crane uses Impressionism • Artistic technique to capture a brief, immediate impression • Crane was a Naturalist • Realistic portrayal of persons or things • In the novel, Crane presents humans as animals engaged in the brutally endless struggle for survival. • Literary Elements • Limited 3rd person omniscient narrator • Amoral- tells the story as it happens, non-judgmental
limited in that the narrator uses the protagonist’s view to tell story • Omniscient in that he knows “all” related to the story • Dialect • Spoken language peculiar to a region or social group • Dialogue • The passages of talk in a story (between characters) • Dynamic Character • Changes throughout the story (also called “round characters”) • Static Character • A “flat character” does not change • Conflict • External- problems occurring external to the character • Internal- psychological problems occurring within the character
Plot • “ story of one person’s struggle to make sense of a world in which his expectations have been shattered.” • Setting • Two days in the life of the protagonist • Chancellorsville Battle • Situational Irony • When there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what is appropriate to happen, and what really does happen • Dramatic Irony • When a character thinks one thing is true, and the audience or readers know better • Verbal Irony • When someone says one thing but really means something else
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage • Realism- the battle scenes, descriptions of the dead and dying, the soldier’s reactions are graphically presented. • Use of dialect- uses words that would have been used by people then. “Derned” and “shucks” were considered profane. • Focus on personality development and the exploration of the inner self confronted with moral choices. • Naturalism- presents humans as animals engaged in the brutally endless struggle for survival. • Ex.- when faced with battle, Henry’s first instinct is to run.
Symbolism- COLOR • Red and black = fear, death, violence, danger • Blue = purity, rest, strength • Green, brown, yellow, gray = foreboding, frightening • White = mysterious, religious • Silver, gold, purple = hope and triumph
Themes in RBOC • The nature of human existence • frequent comparison of humans to animals dehumanizes them. Survivors tend to be those who surrender to instinct. • The value of the individual • one must find his own value. Ex.- Henry reinvents himself after his desertion, yet the general still sees him as important as a broom. • The capacity to change • not can people change, but why the change