An Analysis of Courage as Depicted by Glory and The Red

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It is often asked, “What would I do if confronted by…?” The blank can be filled with myriad situations. It could be an extreme and painful disease. The circumstance might be some terrible fear that would make one flee. What if it was war? What would the answer be? Is it possible to stand firm in the face of almost certain death, and win over fear to be found courageous? Two completely different forms of media explore the question. The Red Badge of Courage is a book (also a major motion picture) that examines the horror of an American Civil War battle. Glory is a movie that follows the fortunes of the first African American regiment to fight in the same war. Both book and movie portray courage in a very different way. However, the similarities between two dissimilar pieces of fiction are compelling.

Webster’s Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus defines courage as, “Mental or moral strength to face danger without fear (2005.)” This seems to be lacking, in that, courage can be better defined as facing a difficulty while eschewing the fear. To fight regardless of the consequences, or stand in the face of peril that quakes is true courage. The two above-mentioned vehicles attempt to convey the latter definition.

    

How do the depictions differ in each film/television show?

               Courage is seen as something that is gained by introspection and experience in the book. The hero is Henry Fleming. He listens to his comrades (especially Jim Conklin) talk about the laurels to be gained through a successful campaign. Courage is not questioned by these men; it is assumed. Henry has his doubts. He wonders how he will react to his first real taste of battle. He doesn’t imagine the best possible personal outcome, he fears the worst. The movie doesn’t begin with all of the principles in place. The main character in the drama is Colonel Shaw.  He is portrayed as a Northern abolitionist who has been thrust into a war about issues of slavery.