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Stephen Crane and the Red Badge of courage

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Lord Fairfax

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  1. The life of Stephen Crane.
  2. A new technique in literature - naturalism.
  3. Differences in Crane's writing.
  4. The Red Badge of Courage.
  5. The new United States.
  6. Army of the Potomac.

Born in 1871 to a Methodist preacher and social leader, Stephen Crane started his short, but compelling life in the Civil War torn society that was America- or more specifically, Newark, New Jersey. His parents held a belief, commonplace in their era, that valued God, acknowledged free will and saw mans important place in the universe. Despite this upbringing, Crane's future writings would not abide by such outdated ideas. (Ant. of Amer. Lit. vol.2 775) The world Crane lived in was a curious and cynical one. Darwin had recently shaken the Victorian world with his book On the Origin of Species, and with it delivered a tremendous blow to religious faith. At the same time, industrialization was forever changing the way Americans would live. Growing up just six years after the end of the Civil War, Crane cultivated a fascination with the military and subsequently, war. Consequently, he attended a military prep school in New York for two and a half years before deciding to go to school at Lafayette College to study mining engineering. Despite the change of heart, Cranes interest in warfare seeped through to help create not only one of the greatest war novels, but greatest anti-war novels as well. Published in 1895,

[...] (MCI 98) ?Because the focus of Naturalism is human nature, stories in this movement are character-driven rather than plot-driven.? (Lit. movements Vol.2 206) In addition to this, the characters are usually common people rather than people of higher social standing. ?These characters lead simple lives, uncluttered by the good fortune and distractions of glamour, wealth, or adventure.? (Lit. movements Vol.2 210) With this in mind it is of no surprise that the main character in The Red Badge of Courage is a common man who realizes his courageous potential when put in an extraordinary environment. [...]

[...] Although America could boast over 4,000 millionaires, they were mostly ?bankers and industrialists who touted the glories of ?business and bustle,? business luminaries who revered the virtues of self-help.? (AoAL Due to the fact money and power were mostly in the hands of a few, cities were ?swollen with growing numbers of the poor, the ignorant, and the unskilled.? (AoAL The new role model for the young men in society who aspired to ?rise in the world through luck and pluck? would become business and financial tycoons. Mark Twain described this as age of extremes: of decline and progress, of poverty and dazzling wealth, of gloom and buoyant hope.? (AoAL ?This new city of motion and machines was the New York Crane had lived in as he wrote The Red Badge of Courage.? (MCI 195) In this newly industrialized and capitalistic society, competition is the driving force to succeed. [...]

[...] He shows us this by his use of the army in The Red Badge of Courage, which is ?rife with internal contention even before it enters into the grand competition by which, Marx had argued only years before, industrial capitalism sustains itself.? (MCI 198) In spite of this, Henry Fleming remains timid and keeps at bay from the other soldiers' aggressiveness. It is for this reason that Henry fails to achieve self ?actuality and consequently questions his worthiness as a man. [...]

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