A Golden Crown to Gain: The Machiavellianism of Kipling’s 'The Man Who Would Be King'

12 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2009  

Colin D. Pearce

Clemson University - College of Business and Behavioral Science

Date Written: June 25, 2009

Abstract

This paper discusses Rudyard Kipling's famous story 'The Man Who Would Be King' in terms of the leitmotif of Machiavellian political philosophy that is to be discerned in the unfolding of the story. Kipling introduces us to the twin founders of the new order in Kafiristan in the same way that Machiavelli dedicates his 'Discourses' to two young nobles. He then proceeds to describe how they acquired their new kingdom and then how they lost it. On closer examination it becomes apparent that the initial success of the two English adventurers in the Hindu Kush was attributable to their following Machiavellian principles while their ultimate demise was rooted in their failure to to adhere to them once they had secured their new state and all the benefits which accompany princely rule over a subject population.

Keywords: Kipling, Machiavelli, Kingship, Empire, Prudence, Religion, Virtue, Progress, Women

JEL Classification: B30, B31, Z10, Z12

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Colin D., A Golden Crown to Gain: The Machiavellianism of Kipling’s 'The Man Who Would Be King' (June 25, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1425605 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1425605

Colin D. Pearce (Contact Author)

Clemson University - College of Business and Behavioral Science ( email )

Clemson, SC 29631
United States

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