The Red Badge of Courage - Part 2
The book The Red Badge of Courage was a very moving and interesting book that has many examples of the literary devices; irony, motif, and metaphor - The Red Badge of Courage introduction. These three things are very important in many forms of writing. Irony is an outcome of events different to what was or might have been expected. Motif is a recurring theme, symbol, or idea in artistic or literary work. An extended metaphor is the comparison of one thing to another that recurs throughout the novel. This book is filled with these elemental devices which are very important in every field of literature.
An example of irony can be found in chapters 7 & 8, an example of motif can be found in chapters 9 – 12, and an example of extended metaphor can be found in chapters 5 & 6. This is The Red Badge of Courage. Examples of irony are continuous throughout this book. Just looking at the title of the book is also ironic for Henry did not, in my opinion, get his red badge of “courage” by being courageous. He received it by being hit by another private of his own regiment and not by doing something courageous (67, 68). In my opinion it should be called a “Red Badge of Shame” instead.
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Another example of irony can be found in chapter 1. It introduces Jim Conklin, a soldier in Henry’s regiment. He goes to wash his clothes, but comes flying back with news that he heard from a “reliable” soldier. But this “reliable friend” obviously isn’t reliable because he didn’t hear these news directly from the source, but from another soldier, and so on (6). This is ironic because they all act like the news are completely correct and exact, but it isn’t. Irony is used in this book to describe Henry’s journey from a raw recruit to a seasoned soldier.
Crane uses dramatic, situational, and verbal irony in this novel, from the beginning to the end of this book. Crane uses several motifs in this story to illustrate his symbolism as well. Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the piece’s major themes. A very obvious motif is the one of nature. Henry learns to battle and live among the barest basics of nature. While nature plays an important role, Henry also learns about the basic emotions that men use when fighting and killing each other (42). Henry finds nature in God; therefore He is everywhere Henry looks.
Henry is constantly reminded of his religious beliefs. Whenever he is starting to stray away from God he is reminded by nature that God is watching over him (45, 56). Although he makes mistakes, when he glances to the setting sun or the rising moon he knows he has been forgiven. The motifs, such as the use of nature to describe his belief in Christianity, are what truly show Henry’s personality. An extended metaphor is a comparison that can be seen throughout this novel. An example of this literary style is Stephen Crane’s use of beastly images to depict the enemy; the confederates in this case (18).
Henry had a fear of the enemy, and most people express most fears through calling something “unnatural” or “beastly” like a monster (40). Crane uses Henry’s fears of the enemy to create a sense of trepidation of Henry’s life towards the reader. Throughout the book you hear phrases like “the dragons are approaching,” and “the long serpents are crawling from hill to hill,” (18, 40). Extended metaphors are what Stephen Crane uses to give a since of alarm and fear about the Civil War to the readers. He describes the discrimination and fear the enemies of both sides were to each other.
After writing this paper I realized what the Civil War was like. You can only get so much of a description of what is really going on from reading something, but when you write about this kind of book it means so much more to you. You know the real purpose behind the piece of literature, and that is how I feel about this book. I gained so much insight into the real feelings of a Civil War soldier and what they were going through. Henry was a very perplexed youth going into the war, but came out an enlightened man. This I believe. The End