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Difference Between Courage and Bravery

Courage vs Bravery
Courage and bravery- just another pair of English words found together in a thesaurus entry. To most, they are mere synonyms that mean fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, boldness, or straightforwardly the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty and danger.  However, to those who are more philosophically inclined, courage and bravery are 2 notably distinct nouns.
Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. It is strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he is indeed more powerful or is lesser than what he is tackled with. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. More than a quality, it is a state of mind driven by a cause that makes the struggle all worth it. Unlike in the case of bravery, a person fueled by courage may feel inevitably small in the face of peril, pain or problems. The essence of courage is not the feeling of being certainly capable of overcoming what’s one is faced with, but rather is the willful choice to fight regardless of the consequences.
Bravery is a quality that is, in itself, a means and an end all at once. Courage is a means. Its end would be the cause that drives it. For instance, in the well-known biblical story of David and Goliath, the latter battled with the former and managed to outdo him. He was not afraid despite the giant’s advantage in size, thus he was brave. In this case, David’s bravery in itself becomes the essence of the story. Conversely, in the unconventional cartoon series ‘Courage, the Cowardly Dog’, the protagonist pet dog named Courage speaks so well for his name. He quivers at the sight of ghosts and aliens but those never stopped him from fighting them to save his precious but ever oblivious master, Muriel. In this context, the value courage alone doesn’t become the essence of the act. Instead, it is Courage’s love for and concern towards his master. With that in mind, we can say that one of the distinguishing factors of courage and bravery is the presence of a cause or motivation. While bravery can maintain its very essence without a cause, courage is always gripped by it- may it be in the form of love, concern, compassion, devotion, or passion.
Another unique element that differentiates the two is mindfulness. Acts of bravery don’t necessarily require critical judgment. Most of the time, the quality becomes inherent due to family and societal values and therefore effortlessly manifests second to human nature. A brave person can eat a worm when told to, that is without putting much thought on reasons and consequences of his action. In contrast, courage is a result of a deep understanding of the matter. A courageous person truly understands what he’s getting in to and whom or what he’s doing it for. For instance, a courageous person knows he may die if he goes in a burning building to save his son. He shivers at the thought of burning to death but he proceeds for the love of his child.

  1. Courage and bravery are generally considered as synonyms.
  2. Philosophically, they differ in meaning. Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it.
  3. Courage entails a cause- commonly love, passion, compassion, concern, etc. Bravery maintains its essence even without a cause.
  4. Courage is a result of mindfulness. It is one’s decision to fight despite frightful consequences. Bravery is an inherent characteristic. It doesn’t involve much thinking and rather manifests itself second to human nature for those who have it.

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