Character Analasis of Henry Flemming “Red Badge of Courage” Character Analysis

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In “The Red Badge of Courage”, Henry Fleming is portrayed as unsympathetic due to his attitude and lack of concern for others. His interactions exhibit his self-centeredness and mindset. On page 66, Henry dismissively tells someone, “Now, don’t bother me!”. The author’s depiction of Henry’s desire to strangle the tattered soldier further reveals his feelings of insecurity and shame over his actions. Henry clearly rejects and disregards the tattered soldier’s evident effort to establish friendship.

The protagonist’s lack of consideration for the tattered soldier’s possible loneliness or need for companionship, as well as his indifference towards the soldier’s physical and mental pain, revealed his unsympathetic nature. While there are instances where Henry displays sympathy, such as his promise to take care of Jim, these moments are scarce compared to his prevalent unsympathetic demeanor.

He showed care and intention to look after his dying friend, but neglected to show the same kindness to his other living companions who needed it just as much. Henry’s unkindness is further highlighted when a soldier starts a cheerful conversation about the upcoming battle, only to have his mood crushed by Henry’s icy response: “I thought you were objecting to this march a little while ago” (page 18).

Note that the author characterizes Henry’s speech as “cold.” It seems that Henry consistently had a dispirited demeanor, lacking any intentions to uplift or encourage his friends during difficult times. Instead, he rebuked those with joyful hearts. This unsympathetic behavior solidifies him as an unsympathetic character. Although there may be instances where Henry’s actions make him appear sympathetic, his negative motives and self-centered attitude have persuaded me otherwise.

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