Characters and speaker


In “The Brown Man’s Burden” by Henry Du Pré Labouchère, we can identify three characters: the speaker and the collective characters represented by ‘the white man’ and ‘the brown man’. ‘The white man’ is a symbol for colonial powers in general and, specifically, for the US. ‘The brown man’ is a symbol for colonised people.

The speaker

The speaker, is the one who addresses the poem to ‘the white man’. He is the lyrical version of the poet.

Though the speaker does not say anything about himself, his address is ironical and critical towards colonial powers. Consequently, he is firmly against colonialism which he depicts as a way of subjugating and taking advantage of other peoples:

“The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.”
 (ll. 15-16)

“Seize on his ports and pastures,
The fields his people tread;
Go make from them your living,”
(ll. 29-31)

Notice that the speaker assumes the perspective of the white man, using American words such as “niggers” (l. 3) precisely to show the hypocritical justifications of colonialism.  

Also, the speaker directly attacks Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden”, implying his contempt for Kipling’s perspective on colonial powers:

“Hie ye to Rudyard Kipling,
Imperialism's prop,
And b

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