The Irony Behind Imperialism

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The Irony Behind Imperialism During the nineteenth century, Great Britain was one of the richest countries in the world; the British were able to colonize numerous countries and gain profits from each of the countries. With brutality and torture, the British went into these countries to civilize the native people and to obtain goods and services from the locals’ hard work. Rudyard Kipling was a British writer who was born and raised in Bombay, India. Kipling saw sides of colonization that other western people were not able to see. “The White Man’s Burden” is a satirical poem written by Kipling that ridicules this Victorian concept known as imperialism. Imperialist nations during the Victorian time period believed that it was their duty to go into uncivilized countries and make a better place for the natives. Great Britain was one of the main imperialist nations; it certainly had a great impact on the world as we see it today. One of the main concepts of imperialism was that the native people would appreciate Great Britain’s effort to civilize the country. Not only did the western world attempt to civilize the savages, but they also instituted means of utilizing the savages’ labor to gain profit for themselves. For example, the British East India Trading Company was the number one exporting company in the world at the time. The majority of the goods in the company were native to India, yet the British sold it to countries such as the United States as British items. Unfortunately, by forcing the natives to provide free labor and accept British culture and customs, the British were setting themselves up for disaster. Rudyard Kipling shows this type of irony behind imperialism in one of his most famous works, “The White Man’s Burd... ... middle of paper ... ...wever, why are the people simply listening to what they have been told by society without noticing what is actually occurring? “The White Man’s Burden” served as a message for the western world to no longer accept imperialism as their “burden”. With his medley of sarcastic and ironic language, Kipling shows how imperialism hurts both the colonizer and the colonized. The vile deeds conducted by the westerners on the natives for labor was brutal, while the colonized often rebelled violently against the colonizer. This poem could have be seen as an encouragement for the westerners to go against the norm and create a better world to live in; a world without imperialism. Works Cited Kipling, Rudyard. “The White Man’s Burden.” The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ed. Reidhead, Julia. 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 1821-22. Print.
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