The Irony Behind Imperialism Essay

1185 words - 5 pages

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 Burden.”
In Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, he begins by urging his readers to fulfill their duty to colonize others; it was their burden to do so. Since birth, the western people have a duty to “Take up the White Man’s burden--, Send forth the best ye breed” (1821) to uncivilized countries and make them better places. Everyone must send their children to these countries and carry out the difficult task of making the childish like creatures into real human beings. The white man needs to conceal all his fears and become the predominant authority in the bizarre land. The natives will be greatly appreciative of his time and effort. However, Kipling’s language and tone is extremely cynical; this shows that he really did not think the colonizers were doing anything more than “veil[ing] the threat of terror” (1821). Imperialism was clearly just putting everyone’s lives at stake.
The colonizers were simply trying to “seek another's profit, And work another's gain” (1821). In an ironical tone, the author notes how the colonizers do not have to complicate the situation. The colonized give free labor, out of their will, to the imperialist nations. After all, they are just savages; there is no need to question whether forcing the...

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