“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” – Rudyard Kipling. In the novella, “The Man Who Would Be King” by Rudyard Kipling, we learn about racial superiority, the obligation of a true friendship, the danger of arrogance, and corrupt colonialism. The author’s attitude towards the British Empire during the nineteenth century is extremely prominent in this story.
The nineteenth century was a long period of tremendous colonial expansion for the British Empire. During this time, there was extreme racism taking place. After reading a couple of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, I soon came to the conclusion that much of it contains such racist terminology and themes about the superiority of the white, english people. In “The Man Who Would Be King”, Kipling unmasks his true emotions about the idea of the racial superiority of whites. He displays how his view is that the English Men showed immense amounts of hubris, thinking that they were god like and superior to everyone else. Also, that the English men were utterly selfish, they didn’t care about the corrupt colonialism taking place in India. It is highly evident that Rudyard Kipling sees that these men were unable to see the real beauty of human nature because all of them were so caught up in their own greed.
The author, Rudyard Kipling also believed in “noblesse oblige”. This is a french expression, and when used in English, it translates to “nobility obliges.” The deeper concept of it is that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status of wealth or power, to fulfill social responsibilities. In other words, it is the obligation of those belonging to noble and/ or upper class to act with the most generosity and nobility towards those who are of lesser privilege.
It is very well known that Rudyard Kipling’s view of the British Empire is immensely defensive, although in his novella “The Man Who Would Be King”, he exposes his views of the British Empire and what really lies behind the curtain. Kipling removes the face that the English wear in the cold light of day, societies mask, they’re playing saints but it’s all a facade. He acknowledges many of weaknesses and failures of the empire during the colonial expansion of the British Empire. In this story, we read about India. However, it is the British India. Meaning, the India that Rudyard Kipling displays in this is the India that Britain has taken over already during its expansion of their colony. Kipling was a loyal imperialist, which means he was very faithful to and loyal to his state. Rudyard was born in Bombay, now called Mumbai, India. However, he did die in London, England.