What was Rudyard Kipling’s attitude towards the British Empire?
What was Rudyard Kipling’s attitude toward the British Empire, and how did he convey his message in his novella, The Man Who Would Be King? In the making of his novella, Kipling’s attitude toward the British Empire was complicated. Kipling was a loyal imperialist. He always thought that the British Empire held a right and responsibility to maintain India’s government. However, his attitude to this British India was either condescending or oppressive. Kipling also believed in “Noblesse Oblige,” a French expression which are the obligations of those belonging to the upper or noble class. Meaning that if one has power, wealth, or status, that one person has a responsibility to the people who happen to be less fortunate than others. Kipling thought of the English man were selfish beings whom thought were superior to anybody else. It is this belief that Kipling conveys through the characters of his novella: The Man Who Would Be King as he thought that the British upper class was selfish beings whom cared only for themselves and do not pay any need to look for the necessities of those who worked for them.
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Kipling believed they were so prideful and confident that they would do anything they wanted to feel better. He shoes this in The Man Who Would Be King when Carnahan says “Therefore, such as it is, we will let alone, and go away to some other place where a man isn’t crowded and can come to his own. We are not little men, and there is nothing that we are afraid of except Drink, and we have signed a Contact on that. Therefore, we are going away to be Kings.” This shows that they thought they could be much better and do better things in another place. The characters describe their journey as an opportunity to go where no Englishman has gone, and take over. The story is about two ambitious ex-soldiers stationed in India who set out to become the rulers of an entire country.
After finishing their tour of duty in India they decided that India was “too small for the likes of them,” so they bribe a local ruler and rob money from him using it to buy twenty Martini rifles to use to take over villages in Kafiristan. Daniel and Peachy represent the Empire expanding to the benefit of the natives. The ‘White man’s magic’ manipulates and impresses the credulous natives, and they reap the benefits of their modernity by ruling and lying. They risked many things just to go on their journey of being kings. This shows how much they thought of themselves and so little of the other natives. They think of them as fools and gullible people they could surpass with their lies. After being in many hardships along the way and benign difficult, they decided to pretend they were Gods.