Language

Choice of words

Most of the adjectives and phrases used in the story “Lispeth” by Rudyard Kipling to describe Lispeth are terms of praise that suggest her beauty: “lovely” (p. 266, l. 5), “ivory colour” (p. 266, l. 8), “extremely tall” (p. 266, l. 8), “eyes that were wonderful” (p. 266, l. 9), etc. However, at the end, the words describing Lispeth become more negative, to suggest the contrast between her as a young Christian girl and as an old non-Christian woman: “the bleared, wrinkled creature” (p. 269, l. 13). Phrases like “a savage by birth” (p. 267, l. 33) and “infamously dirty” (p. 268, l. 36) also describe Lispeth suggesting that her ethnic identity is something negative.

At the same time, the adjective and adverbs used to describe the attitude of the Chaplain’s wife or her views are often negative, suggesting a stiff, rigid character: “lectured her severely on the impropriety of her conduct” (p. 267, ll. 4-5), “ ‘barbarous and most indelicate folly’ ” (p. 268, l. 20), “ ‘wrong and improper’ ” (p. 268, l. 25), etc. Often, the phrases uses by the Chaplain’s wife are conveyed with quotation marks, suggesting the narrator’s irony.

Similes and metaphors

Various similes make the story’s language more appealing and engaging. For example, Lispeth is compared to a princess or an ancient goddess to further emphasise her beauty: “… have thought her the original Diana of the Romans going out to slay” (p. 266, ll. 11-12); “more beautiful, like the Princesses in the fairy tales” (p. 266, l. 20). The metaphor “stately goddess” (p. 266, l. 17) reinforces the idea that Lispeth’s beauty was imposing. These comparisons and metaphors reflect Western standards of beauty which are the only ones missionaries are interested in. This suggests that they completely ignored local, Indian standards of beauty.

Lispeth uses the metaphor “ ‘you have killed Lispeth’ ” (p. 268, ll. 39-40) to imply that the Chaplain’s wife has destroyed the person she ma...

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