Dehumanization in the Red Badge of Courage

Good Essays
Dehumanization The novel The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane forcefully depicts an epic adventure though war where the men fight for their lives. These men are subject to a scene which scars and destroys the human consciousness. The result of the war and its bloody landscape causes men to lose basic human judgment and replaces it with mindless violence. All of the men are stripped of what makes them unique and are subject to a merciless war. It is clear as shown by Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage the men are dehumanized into a drone state forced upon them by war. Evidence of the dehumanizing effects of war is revealed even in the first chapter. Henry, a universal symbol of the everyman in the novel, questions his…show more content…
Towards the end of the book, Henry recounts his time spent on the battle field and dissects his experience. He recognizes the ‘what’s done is done’ aspect and begins to get angry himself after he remembers his original thoughts on war:
He saw his vivid error, and he was afraid that it would stand before him all his life. He took no share in the chatter of his comrades, nor did he look at them or know them, save when he felt sudden suspicion that they were seeing his thoughts and scrutinizing each detail of the scene with the tattered soldier. Yet gradually he mustered force to put the sin at a distance. And at last his eyes seemed to open to some new ways. He found that he could look back upon the brass and bombast of his earlier gospels and see them truly. He was gleeful when he discovered that he now despised them. With the conviction came a store of assurance. He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive but of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wherever they should point. He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death. He was a man. (Crane)
Now the battle has finished and Henry’s emotions and ethics have returned to him. Henry is afraid of his future, that the feelings of the empty vessel would return and he would be forced to carry the burden of the war with him
Get Access