Lispeth

This study guide will help you analyse the short story “Lispeth” by Rudyard Kipling. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Lsipeth” (1886)
Author: Rudyard Kipling
Genre: Short story

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a British writer born in India. His works include both novels and poetry. Kipling believed the British Empire could be civilising force in the colonies. Many of his literary works were inspired by his life in India.

Extract

Below, you can read a short extract from our study guide:

Title

The title of Rudyard Kipling's story, “Lispeth”, points to the protagonist of the plot – the local Indian girl who is christened and receives the British name Elizabeth. The fact that the girl is addressed by a pet-name “Lispeth” hints at the fact that Lispeth is treated with a sense of superiority both by the Chaplain and his wife and the Englishman she find on the road. For example, the Englishman never takes her love seriously: “He laughed a good deal, and said it was very pretty and romantic…” (p. 267, ll. 25-26). Similarly, the chaplain and his wife do not think Lispeth is good enough to marry an Englishman: “…it was ‘wrong and improper’ for Lispeth to think of marriage with an Englishman, who was of a superior clay…” (p. 268, ll. 24-26).

The fact that the girl is named Lispeth is also symbolic of imperialist attitudes at the time. Giving her a British name suggests that colonists believed that their culture was superior to the local one.

 

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Lispeth

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