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The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage


by Stephen Crane

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

PRE-BATTTLE: Henry worries and obsesses about whether or not he will run away from battle. The act ends right about the time when Henry’s fears come to fruition and he actually does flee the fighting.

Act II

RUNNING AWAY: Henry goes through about a dozen different states of mind while trying to process his guilt over running away. He gets clubbed in the head and pretends it’s a battle injury while continuing to worry that he will be found out as a fraud.


BATTLE: Henry fights well and becomes the flag bearer. He finally becomes a real man, Pinocchio-style.

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