The Red Badge of Courage
The Psychology of War in The Red Badge of Courage
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, one of the most famous war novels of the 19th century, can also be analyzed outside of the trope of military literature and along a psychological route. Crane’s novel follows the journey of young soldier Henry Fleming and his struggle to grow from an immature vanity and intense egotism in the face of an uncaring and often brutal physical reality of war and nature as well as the inevitability of death that comes along with it. In this view, the theme of nature’s indifference to human lives and the impact it has on Crane’s character ultimately marks a psychological warfare in addition a physical one. Though the novel ends on an optimistic note that Henry has at last become a “changed man,” this paper seeks to argue that Henry’s change from naiveté and vanity to an alleged maturity, especially regarding death, is not a simple and thorough shift but instead subtle and largely incomplete. Therefore, though readers can decisively point to physical examples of Henry’s military victories and heroics by the end of the novel, his psychological battle cannot be concluded as concretely. Henry’s shift, then, is illustrated as a complicated process with no exact “endpoint”: though his newfound...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 652 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 3542 literature essays, 1030 sample college application essays, 103 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in