The Man Who Would Be King

by Rudyard Kipling

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In "The Man Who Would Be King," who are the two imposters?

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The two "imposters" in this text are Dravot and Peachey, the two men who come to the narrator and tell him their curious tale of how they manage to become rulers of a small country by convincing the residents of this location that they are gods and therefore supernatural beings. Initially, their plan works, and they manage to convince the indigenous population of their divine status and gain rule without too many problems. However, it is only when Dravot decides that he wants to take a wife from amongst the women of "his" subjects that both he and Peachey are exposed as imposters and suffer tragedy as a result. Dravot's desire to take one of the local women for his wife is not met kindly, as they think a mere mortal woman cannot be coupled with a god. However, when Dravot forces them to find a woman for him and he goes to her, she, out of fear, bites him, drawing blood. When the indigenous people see Dravot bleeding, they realise how they have been tricked:

...the priests howl in their lingo, "Neither God nor Devil, but a man!"

Peachey and Dravot are therfore revealed to be imposters and the way that they are punished by this tribe indicates their feelings of outrage as to how they have been tricked and deceived. Dravot is beheaded, and Peachey is crucified, only just managing to survive to go back and tell this tale to the narrator.

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