How is "The Man Who Would Be King" about imperialism, and what is Kipling trying to say about it?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The short story "The Man Who Would Be King" by Rudyard Kipling is narrated by a British journalist resembling Kipling himself. He meets two soldiers of fortune, Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, who share with him a plan they have for going to Kafiristan, a small country in a remote corner of present day Afghanistan, to subdue the people and become kings.

Later, Carnehan returns alone as a crippled beggar and tells the narrator that he and Dravot successfully overcame adversities, reached Kafiristan, and became godlike kings. However, Dravot decided to take a local girl as queen, and during the wedding, she bit him and he bled. The locals decided that they were not gods, killed Dravot, and tortured Carnehan before letting him go. To prove his story, he carries with him the head of Dravot with a crown of jewel-encrusted gold. Soon after, Carnehan dies in a poorhouse, and the crown cannot be found.

"The Man Who Would Be King" can be read as a parable of British imperialism in India. The two...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1201 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on