The 1989 film ‘Glory’ was based on the true event of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry battle against the Confederate troops set in the midst of the American Civil War. It has come to represent the suffering of war and the triumph of courage in the face of opposition, especially in the terms of its namesake, ‘Glory’.
Definition of Glory
In personal terms, the word glory is defined as honor earned by the notable achievement of a person or people. It is only given or received after a major struggle or major success, and is often observed by many. In the film, glory is gained by the individuals of the 54th regiment, by their persistence to win the war, despite the odds.
Particularly, the courage shown by Robert Gould Shaw, the captain of the regiment, and Private Trip, a former slave-turned-soldier are the symbols of glory at the height of the battle to capture Battery Wagner. Despite being outnumbered and encountering heavy losses, these two men fought until their final breath, and inspired their troops to do the same. Humanity has also taken a leaf out of such a lesson, not just in war, but also in life. The same struggle exists between the minority and the majority, whatever the situation may be; and the one who continues until the end achieves ultimate glory.
Qualities of Leadership
As aforementioned, the leadership exemplified by Captain Robert Gould Shaw is worthy of note, especially in regards to the quality of his leadership characteristics. There are three qualities of a good leader: trust, communication, and inspiration. Robert Gould Shaw is forced to prove his trustworthiness throughout the film, particularly to his General, Charles Garrison Harker. The General does not treat the African-American counterparts in the 54th regiment as equals with the Caucasians, which leads to Robert Gould Shaw’s confrontation with him to led the regiment lead the battle. This ultimately earns the trust of his fellow comrades. Communication between Robert Gould Shaw’s troops initially becomes heated when the African-Americans are integrated into the army. It is up to Robert Gould Shaw to make ends meet, and he does so by ensuring that both sides work together. Indeed, it is his courage and resistance to fear that inspire his comrades to continue the battle when he dies at the hands of the Confederates. In this last act to his troops, he ‘hands over the banner’, and lets the 54th regiment continue what he left behind.
As one of the main characters, Private Trip joins the 54th regiment, but is distrustful of Captain Robert Gould Shaw. In one of the scenes, Private Trip goes Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL), and is berated by Robert Gould Shaw and is ordered to be flogged in front of the troops as a lesson. However, Robert Gould Shaw reverses his decision after he sees Private Trip’s back riddled with scars from when he was beaten as a runaway slave. As an abolitionist, Robert Gould Shaw ultimately pleads on Private Trip’s case, and gets provisions for his African-American soldier, who have been overlooked in favor of their Caucasian counterparts. This act of assistance allows Private Trip and Captain Robert Gould Shaw to become comrades, gain the mutual respect of each other, and fight side by side until they die together.
Overall Theme and Conclusion
In summary, Glory depicts the war as a struggle between power and equality, with the most courageous receiving the crown of honor. By leading the 54th regiment to work together, fight together, and die together, they gain the respect of the Union and the country, and ultimately, gain the glory. It is for this reason that people of all backgrounds have embraced the concept of glory, and hold it in high honor.