In the poem "The White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling, what is the actual "burden" that white men are plagued with?

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We can look at this poem and your question in two ways. From Kipling's point of view, the White Man is plagued with the responsibility to "civilize" other peoples and then receive scorn for that. The other races, in this view, are but savage children and those of European races have the responsibility to save them from themselves. Kipling writes that it will be hard work. Many will suffer and die in order to accomplish it and be criticized by others for their effort. However, he sees it as the duty of the white race to share their ways, even if by force, with the people who he saw as ignorant and wanting of civilized influence.

Another way to view this poem and your question is from a more distant perspective. White Men, like Kipling, appear to be burdened with a grandiose sense of self-righteousness. Feelings of racial superiority are very much a condition which the imperialists of Kipling's time were plagued with. These notions compelled many to travel to distant lands and practically...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 855 words.)

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