In "The Man Who Would Be King," how does the woman that Dravot wants to marry actually trigger his downfall?
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Dravot's fatal mistake, as Peachey is all too keen to point out, is that he wants to take for himself a wife. However, as he finds out, he is a victim of his own success in this regard. He has established himself as king of these people by convincing them that he and Peachey are gods, and, as Billy Fish tells Dravot when he asks him why he can't marry one of their women, because they have so successfully established themselves as gods, the people believe that no mortal woman can be married to a god: "How can daughters of men marry Gods or Devils? It's not proper." Although Dravot forces through his idea, compelling his "subjects" to find a woman for him to marry, this plan backfires when he finally meets her and she actually bites him, drawing blood. Note what happens as a result:
"The slut's bitten me!" says he, clapping his hand to his neck, and, sure enough, his hand was red with blood. Billy Fish and two of his matchlock men catches hold of Dan by his shoulders and drags him into the Bashkai lot, while the priests howl in their lingo, "Neither God nor Devil, but a man!"
The woman Dravot takes to be his wife therefore ironically triggers his downfall through the simple act of biting him and drawing blood. This therefore shows the indigenous people that Dravot and Peachey are not actually gods, but are actually mortal, and that they have been deceived by them. This leads to their punishment and Dravot's decapitation and Peachey's crucifixion. The basis for their authority has been exposed as nothing more than a lie, and Billy Fish and the other natives are rightly angry at the way they have been manipulated and tricked.
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