Rudyard Kipling Stalky Essay, Research Paper
Stalky & Company
Rudyard Kipling, was born in the city of Bombay, India on December 30, 1865.
He made a significant contribution to English Literature in various areas including poetry,
short stories, and novels. Rudyard Kipling came from an affluent family with his father
working at the Bombay School of Art, and his mother coming from a family of very
accomplished women. Most of his childhood was spent in India where he was taken care
of by a baby-sitter, that instilled in him Indian culture and traditions (?Biography? 1). At
the young age of five, he was sent to England, for education purposes, but he endured a
life of misery resulting from mistreatment. The experience left him with deep
psychological scars and a sense of betrayal (?Kipling? 1). Kipling suffered from insomnia
the rest of his life because of the victimization he went through when in the foster home.
This played an important part in his literary imagination. The English schoolboy code of
honor and duty affected his views in later life, especially when it involved loyalty to a
group or a team (?Biography? 1).
Returning to England in 1882 Rudyard worked as a newspaper reporter, which
helped him gain an experience of colonial life that he later represented in many of his
works. He found himself recognized by many admiring individuals. A few years after
returning to England, he produced some of his best work including his most acclaimed
poem ?Recessional? and his most famed novel Kim. In 1907 Kipling won the Nobel prize
for literature, the first English author to have done so (?Kipling? 1). Soon after winning
the Nobel prize, the deaths of both his children Josephine and John deeply affected his life.
Both of the incidents left a profound impression on his life, which is noticeable in his
works that were published after the deaths (?Biography? 1). As quoted, ?This tragic loss
led Kipling to change from being the poet of Empire, to the poet of bitterness and guilt? .
As quoted by Andrew Lang, ?There is a false air of bitterness; there is a knowing air; there
are mannerisms,…….? (?Bookworm? 1).
Rudyard Kipling is regarded as one of the greatest English short-story writers. His
poems dealt with racial and imperialistic topics that attracted many critics. Critics
condemned that unlike the popular model of poetry, Kipling?s poetry didn?t have an
underlying meaning, which resulted in only having to read that particular work only once
through (?Biography? 1).According to English and Western Literature, conservatism ,
optimism, and self-assurance marked the poetry of his age. As a poet, he is remarkable for
rhymed verse written in the slang used by the ordinary British soldier (?Kipling, (Joseph)?
1). His work was not limited to the highly educated. Many people regarded him as the
soldiers author. Kipling wrote so much from their point of view even though he never
was in any military duty. He also included the slang that the British soldiers used. The
writings of Kipling consistently projected three ideas : intense patriotism, the duty of the
English to lead lives of strenuous activity, and England?s destiny to become a great empire
(?Kipling, (Joseph)? 1). T.S. Elliot describes Kipling?s verse as ??great verse? that
sometimes unintentionally changes into poetry? (?Biography? 1). Rudyard?s preoccupation
with physical strain, breakdown, and recovery was displayed later in his works, as a result
of self-experience (?Biography? 1). As the career of Rudyard Kipling matured, he
drastically improved as a poet, and by the time of his death, he had compiled one of the
most diverse collections of poetry in English Literature (?Kipling? 1).
After being plagued by illness for quite some time, Rudyard Kipling passed away
while residing in London on January 18, 1936, just after his seventieth birthday (?Kipling?
1). He was buried beside T.S. Elliot, and the following year after his death, his
autobiographical work Something of Myself was published (?Kipling? 1).
The basic theme throughout the novel Stalky & Company was the conflict with
authority, and a matter of preserving their individuality and self-respect against adults who
would break their spirits and try to transform these young men into descent members of
society. Stalky & Company is a collection of stories based on adolescence and moral
teachings. Rudyard Kipling based Stalky & Company on his own individual experiences
from growing up, and attending school. In this book, Kipling is represented by the
character Stalky. Stalky was the inventive, lively leader in all illegal pursuits schoolboy,
who had an attitude towards authority. Stalky was bullied somewhat throughout the story,
but Kipling felt it was necessary to add this to the story, because it was a character
-forming ritual. His attitude was that he considered it ?the necessary evil against which
happiness is achieved by reaction? (Rudyard 8). Punishment is a great concern as the
storyline thickens. It is the central concern for the schoolboys, where it becomes the
physical manifestation of a deep conflict in life. The conflict is between the young and the
old, as well as the endless struggle between the individual and the group. The group in this
story has the power to punish, and it uses this power for defense and for instruction. For
instance, Stalky & Company scheme to have their Latin teacher, Mr. King, run off a
neighboring farmer?s land as a poacher, and they succeed without violating any rules, but
the headmaster beats them anyway, and punishes them for deliberately bringing a master
into discredit and degrading school authority. Even though the boys were technically in
the right, there was no justification for the behavior that threatened the organization itself.
In Stalky & Company, Kipling was set out to demonstrate how perfect a place the
United States had been for the formation of the sort of characters that would maintain an
empire. The book is idealized by Kipling, and was imperialistic, yet in his own
experiences, his true headmaster was anti-imperialistic, and there was hardly any flogging.
Rudyard portrayed his old school in Stalky & Company as the perfect training grounds for
soldiers of the Empire. The school that the boys of the story Stalky & Company attended
preached success, because success was power. To be without power was to be a failure.