Civility And Morality In Civilization Represented In The Jungle Book And Showing How Danger Threatens Society.

2160 words - 9 pages

When reading Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, one could look at the Jungle as a "city" and the animals as its inhabitants, its civilization. A civilization is "the type of culture and society developed by a particular nation or region or in a particular era" (American Heritage 246). Each animal in The Jungle Book represents a different part of the "city." In a city, there are the lazy people, the hard workers, the thieves, the cheaters, the criminals, etc. It is all the same with the Jungle. Kipling uses the Jungle and the animals to represent human civilization, and sees civilizations and cultures as being threatened by "danger." A danger is an "exposure or vulnerability to harm or risk" (American Heritage 334). This danger can be represented by many different things: war with other nations or lack of food, for example. As a civilization gets older and older, part of that culture is lost, and even that could pose as a danger. One of Kipling's main themes in his writing was the way that civilization is always being threatened by danger. That theme is clearly seen in The Jungle Book. And what is this danger that is present in this novel? This danger is symbolized by none other than the tiger Shere Khan. Through the use of Shere Khan and the Law of the Jungle, Kipling expresses how civilization is always being threatened, while at the same time using the Law of the Jungle and all of the animals to metaphorically show morality and civility in human civilization.The easiest way to see how this "civilization" is being threatened is to break it down and look at what each animal represents. As Angus Wilson put it;The chief glory of [Kipling's] art in the Mowgli stories lies in his extraordinary combination of the natural and animal world with the world of the humans. Baloo is a bear and a housemaster; Bagheera is chiefly the leopard but a wise, sensual man more worldly than the bear; Kaa is primarily a python, delighting in his coils and glistening skin, lusting chase and kill, but he is also an exceptional and clever man, knowing himself yet accepting The Law, perhaps a true intellectual as opposed to the Bandar-Log who are monkeys and "intellectuals"; the jackal is Mussolini's forerunner; and Shere Khan Hitler's. (Wilson 205)Kipling uses these animals to represent society, its laws and morals. "He certainly believed that moral ideas can be derived only from experience, but that as there is much that is common and universal in all human experience so is there a common and universal law lying beneath all the variations of racial and national cultures" (Stewart 2). His use of the animals and the Law of the Jungle expressed this moral idea of what happens when one follows or when one disregards the law. "It is a law codified in custom, and its recognition and preservation is the distinguishing principle of civilization. People or societies or individuals ignoring 'the Law' thereby diminish themselves-becoming...'lesser breeds.' To show a wolf pack as...

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