Lispeth | Analyse

Presentation of the text
Analysis and theme
Narrator & Language - Alma
Characterization -Lispeth:
Chaplains wife:
Themes & message
Put in perspective to The White Man’s Burden:

In this short story there appears a first person narrative, that with his subjective standpoint makes us wonder, if he is reliable. We see him appear in this following quote; “Whether Christianity improved Lispeth, or whether the gods of her own people would have done as much for her under any circumstances, I do not know; but she grew very lovely” page 1, line 17

We do not know if the narrator is Kipling himself, but the narration can suggest a certain agenda. This can also be found in an analysis of the language. The narrator uses irony to reflect his own opinions, which can be seen in this quote:

“It takes a great deal of Christianity to wipe out uncivilized Eastern instincts, such as falling in love at first sight” page 2, line 53

By seeing how strange or outrageous this sounds, we can see how he ironically comments on how Lispeth wants to marry the Englishman. By analysing the language, we see the negative connotation used to describe the uncivilized behaviour of the Orient, but with the irony it could also be a negative remark towards the Christians.

By looking at the term “colonial discourse”, which was used by the English to make the Natives out as barbaric and utterly uncivilized and make the British appear superior and a justification of colonization, we definitely see a specific way of describing the two “clans”.

An example of the discourse used against the natives could be where the wife tell her, that she cannot marry the Englishman because he is of a “superior clay” and he can only marry a girl from his own people. This means, that Lispeth indeed is inferior to the Englishman, because of her race even though she has been brought up to be a Christian.

Taking a look on the discourse used in favour to the British, Kipling actually does the opposite. Granted that he makes the Englishman superior, the wife does not represent the civilized human of good nature, that she “should” represent.

When she convinces the English to lie, she shows a character that has no problem deceiving or manipulate people in her favour and so does the Englishman when he treats Lispeth like he truly loves her.

This means, that even though Kipling uses colonial discourse, there is an underlying irony that goes with it, because we cannot only see the Natives or Oriental as bad and the British as good.

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