The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling

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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...

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william1941 | Student

The poem “The White Man’s Burden” was written with reference to the American takeover of the Philippines after the Spanish- American War. A majority of Americans including Abraham Lincoln, were against the idea of America joining the European Nations of Great Britain, Spain, France, etc. in taking over the rule of other countries and building their own empires.

A number of Americans, the most prominent of them being Theodore Roosevelt believed that this was America’s fate as it had to take up the responsibility of the improvement of  people who were not as technologically advanced as the Americans and help them progress to a higher stage of civilization.

Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” was for this group of Americans and he actually had an advance copy of it given to Theodore Roosevelt, who felt it captured his ideology very well.

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