What does the writing on the bottom of the "white man's burden" Pear's soap advertisement mean? “The first step to lightening the White Man’s Burden is through teaching the virtues of cleanliness. Pear’s Soap is a potent factor in brightening the dark corners of the earth as civilisation advances, while amongst the cultured of all nations it holds the highest place—it is the ideal toilet soap.”  

The writing on the bottom of the "white man's burden" Pear's soap advertisement means that the product is a part of bringing the benefits of Western civilization to supposedly inferior peoples. The racist assumption behind the commercial is that only white people are truly civilized, and that the so-called lesser races must emulate them and their cultural habits.

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The Pear's soap advert uses cleansing as a metaphor for bringing the benefits of Western civilization to supposedly inferior races. Many white people at the time the commercial was printed would've endorsed Kipling's belief, as presented in his poem "The White Man's Burden" that the West had a solemn duty to bring the benefits of its civilization to the poor, benighted "savages" of what we would now call the developing world.

Just as someone with dirt all over their face urgently needs a good wash, so, by implication, do the people of colonial territories need to scrub off centuries of superstition, savagery, and ignorance with the soap suds of Western civilization. In this case a soap manufacturer is openly colluding with the notion, so beloved of white colonialists, that indigenous peoples need to be cleansed/civilized.

In this reading, personal hygiene is equated with racial hygiene. To be clean means to be either white or to behave like white people. Whereas to be dirty equates with...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 900 words.)

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