The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling

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In the poem "The White Man's Burden," why does Kipling suggest it is important for the "white man" to "take up" this burden?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Similar to most imperialists of the time, Rudyard Kipling believed that colonial ventures were noble and just. Kipling was a proponent of the British Empire and firmly believed that white Europeans were civilizing and improving the world through their imperial conquests. Kipling viewed imperialism as a righteous cause and felt that European nations were acting altruistically. According to Kipling, the white man had the enormous responsibility to spread civilization throughout the world without receiving any personal benefits or rewards for their work. Kipling likens this enormous responsibility to a burden that weighs heavily upon European nations.

Kipling completely disregards the exploitative, violent nature of imperial conquests as well as the annihilation of traditional, foreign cultures and views colonial endeavors as charitable and benevolent. He writes that white men should ". . . seek another's profit, And work another's gain" and "toil of serf and sweeper" throughout their...

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