Crane, Bronte and the Salem-Trials

Presentation (Handout), 2005

4 Pages

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Crane, Bronte and the Salem-Trials

Representation of War in Stephen Cranes Prose

Violence & Bloodshed:

- The Red Badge of Courage (1895) is Crane most violent and gruesome account of fighting
- The colour of War is “red”, representing Fire and Death (through the “red badges”)
- Crane has not seen war himself but his novel is praised as being very realistic
- Witnessing the brutality of war changes the character of soldiers (e.g. the “loud soldier” and Henry Fleming)
The War within
- The struggle for the “laurels” of war is a war itself, fought inside Henry Fleming
- He has to be “pushed” into the fight: His fear is overcome by a knock on the head
- After the “action” is over, his courage changes again into a contemplative manner
- In The Veteran, published a year later, emphasis changes: Henry Fleming is a war hero but he dies while trying to save his pistols – courage can kill, as well.

The Target-Theme:

- The Red Badge of Courage, The Veteran, Marines Signalling Under Fire at Guantanamo (1899) , An Epsisode of War (1899) and The Sergeants Private Madhouse (1899) have one thing in common: the predominance of the “Target-Theme”.
- In all these stories, soldiers are in the first place represented as targets, not as killers
- What is right and what is wrong: in The Veteran, Henry Fleming tells how he thought about convincing the enemy that he was a “good feller” – were his opponents not “good” as well? (shooting at a mass)
Stories before and after being war-correspondent
- War is not been described in a more brutal fashion after Crane has been to war himself
- Later stories appear to be more subtle in pointing out new learned details of battle

An Account of the Salem Witchcraft Trials

How bored children and teenagers can kill 24 people

- Young girls accused women (and later also men) as being witches
- Situation of Salem: Frontier war and Struggle of two clans (Putnam and Porter) paved the way for the accusers to be “successful”
- Publication of Memorable Providence has Christians on alert
- Persecutors were willing and able: William Stoughton, Cotton Mather and John Putnam were the chief “witch-hunters”
- The hanging of George Burroughs might be a key to understanding the massive killing
- Christian morality: Only years after the trials, some accusers and persecutors express their sorrow
- Like in a children’s play: Terms like “spectral evidence”, “Touching Test” and “Witch Marks” appear ridiculous, today.

The role of Tituba

- she is the first to be accused in Salem
- Historians argue that her confession and turning in on two other “witches” helped the trials’ speed to increase
- She was accused and arrested in February 1692 and released about a year later
Salem was “poisoned”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne gives an account of his feeling of shame in Young Goodman Brown (1846)
- Hawthorne is descendent of John Hathorne, a judge in the Salem Trials.
- The story shows how disappointed trust in the good nature of family and respected people can cause damage to ones “faith”
- The story has Salem appear “poisoned”, the devil laughs even at the minister
- In The Crucible (1952), Arthur Miller uses the Salem-Topic to reflect upon a modern “poisoning” of society, the persecution of supposed communist sympathizers

Representation of Male Figures in Bronte-Novels

Mr. Rochester:

- Appears like a ruffian at first, changes to a man capable of true affection later
- In that change, he is about to damage Jane by luring her into an unlawful marriage
- Critics see this as a “Byronic” characteristic
- I see him as a “Miltonic” figure: In the last section of Jan Eyre, Rochester resembles Milton’s Samson in many ways: he is blinded, imprisoned and alone and has lost his strength.
- Jane is the counterpart to the friends and relatives who try to cheer him up
- Rochester, like Samson, finds his strength coming back but on a spiritual level


- The most famous of the Bronte-characters has the most obscure background
- He has no origin, appears like a gypsy (dark complexion, dirty, talking “gibberish”)
- His “birth” (Old Earnshaw produces him from his coat like a new-born) brings trouble to the Heights and Thrushcross Grange
- Critics also see him as a “Byronic” figure for his being an outsider and destroying what he loves (he hastens Catherines Death by arousing her)
- He can also be seen as a “Miltonic” figure: He resembles Satan in Paradise Lost: He is violent and of evil nature but also very passionate which leads to his moaning. He considers the world without Catherine as an “abyss”.
- He enacts his revenge in a “satanic” was as well: He seduces Isabella to marry him, he lets Hindley ruin himself and finally even tries to poison his own son (Linton).

Odd couples: St. John Rivers / Mr. Brocklehurst and Edgar Linton/Jacob

- St. John represents the Upper Class missionary of his period
- He enacts the Christian belief the way the bible is proclaiming it: He is mild in temper and thinks of nothing but his work for God.
- Mr. Brocklehurst is the typical hypocrite who has the air of being a very good person who provides children the opportunity to learn “humility” and “self-sacrifice”
- In reality he is a cruel person who lets children starve so that their “souls be nourished” and has Jan punished severely
- Edgar Linton, though in no way a minister, seems to resemble St. John in his mild temper (towards the disturbances by Heathcliff) and devotion to Catherine. Catherine takes the place of religion, which is even greater to St. John than his affection for Jane.
- Jacob resembles Mr. Brocklehurst when preaching from the bible but being mean. He is a hypocrite, pretending to be a “good Christian” but being a threat to the young Heathcliff and Catherine (turning them in) and cursing people.

4 of 4 pages


Crane, Bronte and the Salem-Trials
University of Hannover
Magister - Mündliche Prüfung
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Thesenpapier einer mündlichen Magister-Prüfung zu folgenden Themen: Representation of War in Stephen Cranes Prose, An Account of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, Representation of Male Figures in Bronte-Novels
Crane, Bronte, Salem-Trials, Magister, Mündliche, Prüfung
Quote paper
Guido Scholl (Author), 2005, Crane, Bronte and the Salem-Trials, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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