Thursday, February 17, 2011

The White Man's Burden & Imperialism

1. “burden |ˈbərdn| (noun) : a load, esp. a heavy one that may cause hardship and grief.

The reason that I put the definition of “burden” here is because it is quite the word in this title, and intrigues me for the fact that it sounds as though it is carrying its own “burden.” For this poem, it is The White Man’s Burden. There is one thing that this phrase REALLY shows me, and it can, and DOES, run and ruin lives: greed. Greed for power, greed for wealth, and greed for imperialism. <imperialism |imˈpi(ə)rēəˌlizəm|(noun) a policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.> At this time period, the white men of the world were vigorously urged toward imperialism. Kipling wrote this poem in 1899, and it was published in McClure’s Magazine. When Theodore Roosevelt read it, he copied it and sent the poem to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, claiming that “ it was rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.” This greed for imperialism led to the white men pursuing their urge for imperialism, but this resulted in high costs. You see, when one country gains land by taking another country under its rule, the extra land costs a lot of money. To me, this results in the white men having a large burden of both the costs and the urge of/for imperialism.
2. MY ANSWER: Kipling justifies Imperialism by referring to it as The White Man’s Burden. As I explained before, the burden is a synonym for the urge for imperialism, and after this is done, the burden of the cost for the extra land. Kipling also states, throughout the poem, more justification for Imperialism by stating “The easy ungrudged praise: /Comes now, to search your manhood / Through all the thankless years, / Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom.” In this quote he is describing that, in imperialism, there is easy reward with the bravery that the white men receive in imperialism. Also, Kipling states “To seek another's profit.” This line alone suggests rebellion against the leaders of the Empire. The common people of the land that was taken over would want to rebel against the leading country for taking away their religion and, mainly, culture. The government then feels like they have to control the mass of people in the larger land mass that they control, thus being forced into a communism of sort. WHAT WE SAID IN THE DISCUSSION IN CLASS: Kipling is being sarcastic throughout this poem. This is Rudyard’s realist poem. So, by stating the effects of imperialism, and because of the fact that Kipling is being sarcastic, he does not justify imperialism. This is the answer that we said in class during the discussion, and I believe that it proves an O.K. point.
3. Such a justification may be appealing because of the major power that it suggests, especially for the white men. Even though slavery was abolished in the United States, in other parts of the world there was still a lot of mistreatment toward the African Americans. The white men felt superior to them, so they felt that they could take over their land (especially in Africa) easier. This way, the white men could gain both LAND and POWER (both geographic and economic power). This was extremely appealing to the white men of that time, especially because the land would earn the empires more money (which was brought by power).

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