Though many interpretations of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage have been suggested, no one, to my knowledge, has analyzed the novel using the principles, ideas, concepts, etc., of general semantics. By studying the novel within the context of general semantics, one, perhaps, will gain a greater appreciation for and a better understanding of Crane's work.
It is interesting to note that the main character, Henry Fleming, can be analyzed in light of the intensional and extensional orientations. Fleming, indeed, progresses from a naive youth, who joins the Union army largely because he has a romantic concept of war, to a young man who learns, through observation and experience, something about the reality of battle. In essence, Crane points out problems inherent in being far too intensional; it is the extensional orientation that is desired.
As William V. Haney discusses in his Communication and Organizational Behavior, intensional individuals become "more concerned ... with the feelings, thoughts, suppositions, beliefs, theories, etc., 'inside their skins' than with the life facts outside" (p. 411). Obviously, those who observe outside facts first, then form beliefs, theories, etc., demonstrate the desired or extensional orientation. Stated another way, intensional individuals make maps before they examine the territory. Extensional people examine the territory first; then they make maps.
At the beginning of The Red Badge of Courage, Fleming clearly demonstrates the intensional orientation. What he knows of war he has gleaned from books: "He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all" (p. 7). (Interestingly enough, Fleming, wanting to experience it all, also demonstrates an allness attitude, which further indicates his immaturity and naivete.) Fleming, of course, is not unusual. Many boys play at being soldier, and perhaps dream of fighting battles, without knowing much about war. Fleming's preconceived ideas are …