How is The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling an example of a utopia or dystopia and why?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It might be said that Kipling's fable-like stories about Mowgli in Kipling's The Jungle Book may represent both utopia and dystopia in the cultures of the various animals Kipling describes and that human's, as seen by Mowgli, may represent dystopia. To expound, the wolves live by a highly ordered society in which compassion and mercy are allowed to supersede the rule of law. The result of the combination of rule of law plus compassion is a society where all aspects of life operate at a high level of order and care and where a special circumstance can cause an expansion of the rule to include and protect someone like Mowgli. The monkeys, on the other hand, live a chaotic existence in which ignorance cancels out any hope of reasoned compassion and lawlessness cancels out any hope of order and careful execution of responsibilities.

When Mowgli is introduced to humans, he views their society as incomprehensible for the greed and for the destructiveness that follow in their wake: Mowgli sees more similarity between humans and monkeys than between humans and wolves. So for Kipling, wolves represent utopia and monkeys and humans represent dystopia. Utopia is defined as an ideal place of social, political and moral perfection. Dystopia is defined as a place with oppression, terror and deprivation (TheFreeDictionary.com).

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