Essay on Fantasies and Realities in Red Badge Of Courage

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Fantasies and Realities in The Red Badge Of Courage

In The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane the main character, Henry Fleming, thought he understood the war between the North and the South. However, his understanding came “from his knowledge of fairy tales and mythology”(Gibson 21). Henry thought that he was like the heroes that he read about in these stories. He soon learned that real war was very different from his imaginative expectations. Crane took Henry’s fantasies and contrasted them with the realities of the war to develop this main character into a mature person.

Henry spent his early life on a farm in Virginia. Henry’s perception of the world was shaped almost entirely by the books his
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He tried to measure himself by the heroes in his dreams, but he was unable to sense any assurance in them. He became homesick, lonely, and unhappy because of his constant worries about whether he would be brave in battle. He finally concluded that he would not know the answer until he actually was in a battle. Now he became eager to fight so that he could prove his courage. Much later after Henry received his wound, he returned to his company “and is greeted as a hero… he thinks himself ‘a man of experience…’ chosen by the gods and doomed to greatness’”(Walcut). He could not wait until he returned home to be greeted by circles of adoring women.

Early in the war, rumors and speculations were rampant. Henry and the other soldiers were happy and confident as they looked forward to their first real skirmish. Henry’s early war experiences were that of setting up camp and marching from one place to another. Early in the war Henry felt that he was better able to understand what was going on in battle than the general and his staff of officers, who were experienced and who had access to information concerning the battle which he did not have. Henry was not aware of how inexperienced he really was and how limited his viewpoints were.

“In Henry’s ‘battle sleep,’ he is heroic. Henry is willing to die, follows and leads in turn to

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