English / White Man'S Burden

White Man'S Burden

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Autor:  anton  01 May 2011
Tags:  Burden
Words: 781   |   Pages: 4
Views: 244

The, “White Man’s Burden” is a controversial poem that has many different interpretations. I am going to tell you about my personal interpretation from this poem and the interpretations and reactions the poem got from different audiences. I think that this poem is one of the highlights of its time and it really shows what kind of thinking the Imperialists had about going to Africa. Let’s take a look, first, at what exactly the, White Man’s Burden” is.

In the late 18th century early 19th century, Europeans got the idea of Imperialism. Europeans began to think that they needed to spread their culture and technology all across the world; this led to the invasion of Africa, Asia and the Philippines. In the, “White Man’s”, Europeans and some Americans, point of view they were better than all others. Each country’s people developed a nationalist point of view. Each country felt that they were the best and that they needed to spread their culture to the rest of the world. In this poem, this is the, “White Man’s Burden.” They took upon themselves this, “Burden” because they felt that it was their duty as a country. They convinced themselves that they were doing it for the benefit of others, not for their own profit. It would seem that the, “White Men” were very good at lying to themselves to make them think that they were doing it for the right reasons, when in reality they were doing it to expand their country in a conquest to dominate the world. This is obviously a load of Bull****! The Europeans expected to reap the rewards of profit and pride as Kipling clearly states in lines 11-16. Belgium was the first to take a land grab in Africa, and with that began the Age of Imperialism.

Now let’s jump to the poem itself. After reading this poem I thought to myself, “What kind of sick, diluted person could write this?!” But when I take a closer look at the poem I realize that he is actually speaking against Imperialism in Africa. This is clearly satire. Satire is the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. I think that he is using satire in a sense that he is being sarcastic. In my opinion he is supporting Anti-Imperialists, and when I take a look at his life at the time, it shows that he definitely could have thought that way. But me, thinking in an Anti-Imperialist point of view, I would interpret this in an Anti-Imperialist way. However, in Europe this poem was quite popular. Therefore this poem creates two different points of view, Anti and Pro Imperialism. In the eyes of the Europeans, this poem made sense in what they were striving toward because the words in the poem are almost exactly what Europe was thinking to themselves when the idea arose. The poem may have gotten out to all audiences but, in my opinion, his real audience was the Indians since that was where he was born and where he got his inspiration. And India, being victims of Imperialism, probably agreed with everything that Kipling was trying to express. To Indians this poem spoke to them sincerely and expressed exactly how they felt. Now let’s jump to America.

In the U.S there was much controversy on the subject of Imperialism. Imperialist leaders in America such as, Theodore Roosevelt and Anti-Imperialist leaders such as, Mark Twain would have debates on whether or not to go into the East and claim land. The same effect happened in America that happened in Europe. People had different views on what the poem was trying to say. The reactions were therefore mixed. This poem, in a sense, warns the United States not to join the Imperialists. To Mark Twain this poem was a warning sign saying, “Do Not Enter!” And to Theodore this poem got him all hyped up to head to the East. At the time of this poems creation America had just annexed Hawaii and taken over most of the Pacific Rim which includes Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. America eventually backed out of the area and stayed focused on what was happening in there own country until WWI, when America was forced to get involved 3 years after the start… But that’s another piece of history.

In conclusion, Kipling wrote this poem to the Indians and Africans who were subject to Imperialist acts. And as a result of this poems publication, his life became a conflict over where he stood on the subject of Imperialism. Though his life became troubled as a result, his intentions were definitely in the right place.



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