The Jungle Book Study Guide
The Jungle Book: Chapter Summaries
The Jungle Book: Themes
The Jungle Book: Characters
The Jungle Book: Analysis
The Jungle Book: Critical Essays
The Jungle Book: eText
The Jungle Book: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Jungle Book: Questions & Answers
The Jungle Book: Introduction
The Jungle Book: Biography of Rudyard Kipling
Introduction to The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling. Published in 1894, the collection focuses on the lives of jungle animals in India, as well as the journey of Mowgli, an abandoned human boy who is raised by wolves. Kipling, an English author, was raised in India, and regional folklore heavily influenced the short story collection. Many modern critics view the work as an allegory for the English occupation of India as a colony, and Kipling is often noted for his endorsement of imperialism. However, even critics who approach Kipling’s works through a colonialist lens have noted the unique and compelling nature of The Jungle Book. Its enduring popularity has been aided by frequent adaptations, including a popular animated film. It is also one of the founding texts of the scout movement, and allusions to the collection have been integrated into the vernacular of scouting hierarchies.
One of the recurring motifs across the story collection is the importance of obedience to the law. The so-called law of the jungle allows the animals to maintain a sort of civilized society, and adherence to these rules is vital to the preservation of civilization as a whole. Freedom exists as a result of a broader system of protections, and those who do not adhere to society’s rules face isolation and loneliness. Abandonment and belonging are especially salient to Mowgli’s journey, as he finds himself an outsider in both human and animal communities. Obeying the laws of the jungle becomes the means through which Mowgli can—at least temporarily—fit in. However, at key moments, Mowgli displays another positive trait: courage. Duty, responsibility, and bravery are all celebrated as vital in terms of both personal development and the maintenance of civilization.
A Brief Biography of Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) was a major English writer of the Victorian and Edwardian ages. Born in British Colonial India, Kipling traveled to England for his education as a boy, returned to India in his adolescence to take up work as a journalist, and finally settled in England to launch his literary career. His writing ranged across forms, encompassing novels, short stories, and poems. His work reflects his experiences living in British Colonial India, and he is often viewed as a writer who embodies the ethos of the British Empire at the height of its powers. His best-known works include the short story collection The Jungle Book (1894) and the novel Kim (1901).