Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” aims at flattering the British population by presenting them as servants to the colonized natives and by directly addressing the British readers of the poem.
Kipling describes the function of the colonisers to civilize the native people as a hard duty. The fact that colonisers have to wear a “heavy harness” makes me think of a horse that is commanded by a superior person and that has to do hard work. The one who commands the colonizers is not at all a person but it is the white man’s duty to leave their homecountry and civilize the natives in the colonies. This duty is put upon them due to their superiority in terms of culture, technology and lifestyle. What is striking here, though, is the idea that the British as the superior people are described as servants to the natives commanded by a moral ideal.
On the contrary, the Native people are depicted as “sullen peoples” (l.7) who are “half-devil and half-child” (l.8). They are compared to a devil because of their dark skincolor which scared the common British population at that time and also their wild, uncivilized lifestyle which became apparent in constant tribal wars, supposed cannibalism etc. In the eyes of the whites, the natives did not possess the technological infrastructure such as roads, railroads, architecture. This is why they are compared to helpless children. So in the common belief of that time, the natives were uncivilized, unskilled and need the colonisers’ help.
In addition, Kipling compares the colonisers’ with a “serf and sweeper” (l. l1). Serves and sweepers are people who are dependent on their boss and have to do everything he or she tells them to do. And the image of a sweeper makes me think of a person who eliminates the waste. So Kipling presents the colonisers as the inferior ones, who have to suffer under hard work. Kipling’s aim might be to flatter the imperialistic pride of the British who sacrifice themselves and do hard work in the colonies in very modest circumstances.
Moreover, Kipling directly addresses the supposedly British readers. This is meant to / is supposed to probably motivate the readers to help the colonisers or to colonize a country themselves. By using frequent imperatives (see ll. 1ff) , Kipling wants to underline the importance of the white man’s duty to help the native population by colonization.
Especially by the final line, Kipling underlines the idea that it is the British population’s duty, destiny but also chance to change the world for the better, to go and civilize in their eyes uncivilized regions of the earth.