How are Dravot and Carnehan’s adventures representative of the British Empire in Rudyard Kipling's novella "The Man Who Would Be King"?

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An underlying theme in "The Man Who Would Be King" is a comparison between the imperialism of the British Empire and the motives and exploits of Dravot and Carnehan. In this sense, the story takes the role of a satirical allegory . Just the feelings of superiority that...

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An underlying theme in "The Man Who Would Be King" is a comparison between the imperialism of the British Empire and the motives and exploits of Dravot and Carnehan. In this sense, the story takes the role of a satirical allegory. Just the feelings of superiority that the two protagonists have toward the native peoples that they encounter can be seen as a direct parallel to the general feelings of British imperialists of Kipling's time. Dravot and Carnehan expect to be treated as kings simply because of their feelings of racial superiority and their own perceived cunningness.

Like the British Empire, Dravot and Carnehan take advantage of tribal rivalries to put themselves in positions of influence and power. They also use modern weapons to win battles and give to loyal chieftains in order to secure political advantages. Once in control of land, they embark on ambitious building projects, such as the construction of the bridge. The British Empire also oversaw building and infrastructure projects throughout its empire.

The sense satire comes in when it comes to Dravot's ego and pride. By the end of the story, Dravot begins to believe that he is actually the god he is pretending to be. He truly feels that he superior to the people of Kafiristan. They are lesser beings and he is entitled to rule over them simply by the virtue of his existence. This was a common feeling of British imperialists. Kipling himself coined the phrase "the white man's burden" in order to refer to Europeans' sense of God-given obligation to rule over other races. In this story, Kipling may be implying that there are dangers to the pride and ego that this mentality engenders. In the end, this Dravot's conceit leads to his downfall. Maybe Kipling was sending a warning that overconfidence may be a danger to maintaining an empire.

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In Rudyard Kipling's novella "The Man Who Would Be King," Dravot and Carnehan behave like the British Empire by trekking about all over India swindling the natives out of money. What's more, after they meet the narrator of the story, they make their way into Kafiristan at the "top right-hand corner of Afghanistan" to, as they declare, become kings. In Kafiristan, they actually do temporarily fulfill their wish.

In Kafiristan, they first begin to establish themselves as rulers by forcing 10 natives with bows and arrows into subordination by use of their guns and resolving a conflict between two villages. Soon enough the villagers begin worshiping them as gods. Dravot and Carnehan also realize that some of the natives they have met practice Freemasonry, yet the tribesmen know nothing of the highest order of the Craft; therefore, Dravot easily convinces them that he is the Grand-Master. Since the tribesmen see Dravot as the Grand-Master and both Dravot and Carnehan as gods, they make Dravot king and Carnehan Commander-in-Chief of their army. In other words, Dravot and Carnehan take advantage of what they see as being the ignorance of a native society in order to make them their subordinates and place themselves in a position of authority, which is the exact same behavior exhibited by British imperialists.

British imperialists conquered native peoples because they believed natives to be inferior. British imperialists made natives their subordinates under the pretext that the imperialists were civilizing the natives when, in reality, all the imperialists were doing was exploiting the natives of their wealth and resources.

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