Analysis and Summary of If by Rudyard Kipling

English ISU Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 and through the years of living in Bombay, he learned about the British Empire. Kipling gave much too English literature and wrote poetry, short stories, and novels1. When Kipling was five, his parents sent him to boarding school in England so he could learn more about his British background. While living in England, Kipling was inspired by the imperialistic views of the British demonstrated around the world. During his school years, Kipling had a very difficult at boarding school. He was physically abused throughout his time in college.

After finishing college in 1882, he returned back to India to work as a journalist and editor. Also in 1882, Kipling married an American woman Caroline Balestier and immediately moved to America to live with her. He stayed in Vermont until 1899, and went back alone to England to write literature. The majority of his poems dealt with his opinion of inspiration and imperialism. An analysis of “If” and “The White Man’s Burden” makes it clear that Rudyard Kipling uses literary devices effectively to fortify his message of inspiration and imperialism. If” is one of Kipling’s best known poems and it contains one of his most powerful messages of inspiration. In the beginning of the second stanza in “If”, Kipling uses personification “If you can dream- and not make dreams your master. ” The beginning of the stanza focuses on reality; dreaming is good, but do not let it take control of yourself. Meaning, there are other important goals in life that are needed to be achieved. The second personification used by Kipling is on line 10 and 11 “If you can meet with triumph and disaster/ and treat those two imposters the same. This explains that failure is a benefit; mistakes are guaranteed to happen. No one is perfect and people learn from their missteps. The final personification on line 21 and 22 Kipling uses is “If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew/ To serve your turn long after they are gone. ” This means to put your heart and nerve into your actions in the future and learn from the past. Also, having to accept the past and move on from it with your heart and gut. Alliteration is expressed twice in “If” to fortify Kipling’s thoughts and expressions throughout his poem.

In line 12, the alliteration “treat those two imposters just the same. ” emphasizes Kipling’s point of treating people with equity and respect. This quote implies how Kipling sees society’s disapproval towards other people and he interprets that everyone including (imposters) should be fairly treated without criticism or judging based on societal influences. Another example of Alliteration is “With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,” on line 30, expressing Kipling’s opinion of time. Meaning to try and put an effort in constantly; even when feeling exhausted.

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Kipling uses another personification in the sixth stanza “Nor call too loud on freedom/ To clock your weariness”. Thus, Kipling explores the meaning of individual freedom and that the use of individual freedom should not be an excuse to cover up ones weariness. Also, not aiding others by refusing to “Take up the White Man`s burden”. Anaphora is used in “The White Man’s Burden” to give emphasis to Kipling’s points. The first example is found in the fourth stanza, “The ports ye shall not enter, /The roads ye shall not thread,” have the same “The _ ye shall not _”.

This represents Kipling’s repetitive thoughts of the imperial nation being denied to enter and live in the captured nation. Another example of anaphora is used in the sixth stanza “By all ye cry or whisper, / By all ye leave or do”. Kipling is poetically conveying the ruling of the conquered nation founded by the bequest of the imperial territory. Kipling also expresses the poems theme of Imperialism with the significant use of repetition and allusion. The line “Take up the White Man’s Burden-” is used at the start of each stanza establishing the basis of the poem.

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