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The following research paper is focused on Christian symbolism and other such ideas in Stephen Cranes novel, The Red Badge of Courage. The use of themes, imagery, and Impressionism are discussed, as they are present in The Red Badge of Courage. In Stephen Cranes literary marvel, The Red Badge of Courage, it is widely known that there are many areas of religious influence throughout the book. References to the sun as a wafer refer to the Holy Eucharist common to liturgical ceremonies. As Jim Conklin dies, his body seemed to bounce a little way from the earth in his ascension. This subtle resemblance to Christ is clear, portraying his ascension to the right hand of God.
He dies wounded in the side, on a hill. His death stirs thoughts of a solemn ceremony for Fleming. Even Conklin's initials are significant, as they are identical to those of Jesus Christ. Few figures in American literature have a better claim to the trappings of Christs Passions than does Jim Conklin (Bloom 182).
Mrs. Fleming is the voice of Christian-group ideals; her relationship to Christianity is apparent everywhere. When Henry tells his mother he has enlisted she says The Lords will be done, Henry. When he leaves her for the war, she simply says The Lord will take care of us all. By the time Fleming receives his red badge of courage, he has sloughed off the Christian concept of heroism anyway. Immediately after deserting the tattered man, Flemings guilt reaches almost unbearable proportion: The simple questions of the tattered man had been knife thrusts to Henry.
He committed two sins here: His refusal to confess his earlier desertion of the regiment and his desertion of the tattered man. He could not keep his crime concealed in his bosom he admitted that he could not defend himself (Bloom 124). Influence from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter can also be seen in the plot: When Henry meets the tattered man, he repeatedly asks him over and over again where his wound is. This question causes Henry to feel the letters of guilt burned Dimmesdale-like, into his forehead.
Instead of causing him to repent, the letters merely force him to desert the man and leave him to wander off into the fields and die (Bloom 124). Henry is Stephen Cranes Dimmesdale, and the only difference between the two is that Cranes character ultimately is able to put the sin at a distance (Bloom 123). There are also non-specific symbols in The Red Badge of Courage. Fleming sees things through a religious half light, and he enters the forest chapel.
The first person Henry sees after leaving the forest is the tattered man, who, for him, embodies the Christian-group ideal he was searching for (Bloom 121). Also, the book is divided into two sections, like the bible. The Red Badge of Courage contains elements of both Impressionism and Symbolism, as Robert Barr notes: R. W. Stallman proposes that The Red Badge of Courage is a symbolic construct laden with symbols and images.
However, according to some critics, his episodic narrative structure and his consistent use of color imagery are indicative of an impressionistic method (Barr 120). Certain themes are also present in Cranes writing, war being the theme of The Red Badge of Courage. War and poverty are Cranes best themes, and the needless suffering of animals (Dickey 159). Nature is another theme Crane uses frequently.
If nature was not wholly malevolent, it was, as in The Red Badge of Courage, a symbol of a universe utterly oblivious to mans plight. Nature as a symbol dominated several of the pieces Crane wrote (Weinstein 159). Crane also used a great deal of color imagery in The Red Badge of Courage. Yellow light, blue demonstration, blue and brass, gray bewhiskered hordes, and red badge of courage are examples of this color imagery. Crane uses symbolism through the color red which represents courage and the dreams of Henry Fleming (Nagel 112). Crane emphasizes this aspect when Henry gets his bloody wound of courage not because he was courageous, but because he was trying to get help from another soldier whom hits him because Henry was bothering him when he is trying to run away.
Stephen Crane may not have purposely included several religious indications in his novel, but they are there, as well as several uses of symbolism and imagery. This paper is a summarized collection of the key points as noted by critical authors of the twentieth century.
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Research essay sample on Red Badge Of Courage Stephen Cranes