The Red Badge of Courage
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, combines realism and naturalism to depict the deadly confrontation of men in war. The use of these traits uniquely exhibits Crane’s talent to express characters, to describe setting, and to create a theme. The use of naturalism is quite dominant, but realism is also present and used to great effect.
Realism is a common trait shared by all of the characters. The figures in this novel are perceived to be believable with average abilities. These characters are neither epic heroes nor robots. They curse, fight, and argue like real humans in the real world. A common technique practiced by all notable writers is the use of dialect. "Well, yeh kin b’lieve me er not, jest as yeh like. I don’t care a hang."(2). The distinguishing use of speech captures the realistic aspect of a conversation between characters. Another distinctive trait of realism is the disinterest that nature plays in the affairs of the soldiers of war. For example, after escaping the battle, Henry Fleming seeks refuge in the woods. He notices that the woods seal out the sound of battle and ignores the human conflict taking place: "It seemed now that nature had no ears"(34). Lastly, the positive outlook is the third characteristic of realism. Henry is overwhelmed with fear and abandons the war. Surprisingly, he escapes unscathed and later learns that his regiment had ended the battle victoriously. Although traits of realism are very evident, naturalism is the dominant technique used by Crane.
Crane used naturalism to show Nature’s hostility towards man, to describe the practice of using scientific theory to develop and explain characters and events, and to emphasize Henry’s regiment uncontrollable destiny. As Henry and his regiment attempt to pass through the dense foliage, they constantly find themselves caught in the never ending vines of thorns. "The branches, pushing...
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