Rudyard Kipling's portrayal of women in his collection "Plain Tales from the Hills"
Victorian Era WomEn The picture Kipling paints…Aditi Verma – 0302985Andrew Goh - 0304490
Rudyard Kipling• English poem, short-story writer, and novelist of the Victorian Era.• Born in Bombay Presidency of India (now known as Mumbai) on 30 December, 1865.• Famous for The Jungle Book, Kim, and Plain Tales from the Hills among many others.• Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907; the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient.
Introduction• Portrayal of women in literature – broad and exploratory subject.• Some portrayed as meek, some as strong, some carefree, while some restricted.• We have written a literary analysis on the portrayal of women in British India by Kipling, in his short story collection Plain Tales from the Hills, published in 1888.
Our analysis1. The Other Man2. Lispeth3. Three and – an extra4. Cupid’s Arrows5. Miss Youghal’s Sais6. Rescue of Pluffles
Literature ReviewMain points of report’s lit review:•Kipling’s female characters were likely influenced by the women inhis life, i.e. his mother, his wife and a the wife of a ‘Captain Holloway’who ran the boarding school he went to (1871-1877) that frequentlybeat him.•Miroslava Kovářová of Masaryk University, Brno has describedKipling’s women as ‘multi-dimensional and multi-faceted’, showingthat they are not victims of particular men but of a particular politicaland ideological system both men and women are subjected to.
• However, he has also states that Kipling’s portrayal of female characters is ‘restricted and limited’, describing women like Mrs. Hauksbee and Mrs. Reiver as ‘shallow and promiscuous.’• Kipling however, portrays women differently than other authors, for example Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) portrayed her female characters as as wealthy, beautiful, pious, stylish, and somewhat shallow, showing the deficiency of a womans place in society by restricting her characters to their boundaries.• Besides that, another author named Thomas Hardy portrayed his female characters as helpless victims, and has depicted an overall lesser value of women, as can be examined in two of his most renowned works, Return of the Native and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
Miss Gaurey (The Other Man)•Miss Gaurey is a woman who forcibly married to a man namedColonel Scheriederling implied to be many years her seniordespite being in love with another man at the time. After fallingill, Miss Gaurey — who was considered ordinary from the start— became ugly, and her husband ignored her from then on,choosing to go back to the ‘lairs of his bachelorhood’ instead.•Miss Gaurey is a standard example of women during thosetimes; more often than not, they were forced into marriages forthe family’s sake. Besides that, Scheriederling’s treatment of heris somewhat abusive, reflecting on how men thought of theirwives back then – subservient, mindless and expected totolerate all form of abuse, mental or physical.
• Miss Gaurey differs from the standard Victorian era female character in that instead of being highly emotional and prone to tears; Miss Gaurey did not shed a single tear during the entire story. In example, she did not weep during her forced marriage to Scheriederling, unlike her mother who used it to gain sympathy.• Another example would be when despite her obvious surprise at meeting her old flame, who is referenced to as The Other Man in the story, she did not weep after the initial shock. This implies that Miss Gaurey was rather strong emotionally for a woman of her time. Besides that, Rudyard Kipling wrote of her as being ugly, but also a survivor – he wrote that men like Scheriederling did not marry women who died easily, lending credence to her trait as a survivor.
Mrs. Bremmil (Three and – An Extra)•Mrs. Bremmil is a married woman who finds her marriage injeopardy after the death of her newborn child, as a womannamed Mrs. Hauksbee attempts to steal her husband away. Atfirst, it seemed that Mrs. Bremmil was too meek to do anythingabout it.•However her meekness was a feint – having told her husbandthat she would be having dinner with the Longmores, sheproceeded to show up at the ball he attended with Mrs.Hauksbee after her dinner, turning the heads of all the menpresent. Eventually her husband decided to ask her for a dance,which she teasingly rejected, but in the end accepted. In theend, Mrs. Bremmil managed to wrest her husband back fromMrs. Hauksbee, earning the latter’s begrudging respect.
• Kipling portrays Mrs. Bremmil in an entirely different manner from characters like Miss Gaurey; where the latter is more a character that endures suffering without complaint, Mrs. Bremmil is more proactive – she saw a rival trying to snatch her husband away and fought back.• Also Mrs. Bremmil was a strong woman, as evidenced by her ability to get over her child’s death and focus on her husband. Mrs. Bremmil is also rather witty and intelligent, as can be seen with the methods she used in getting her husband back, as well as Mrs. Hauksbee’s remark about her: ‘The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.’
Miss Youghal (Miss Youghal’s Sais)•In the story, Miss Youghal is the daughter of a presumably high-class family who falls for British policeman named Strickland,who had in a sense, ‘went native’ in order to blend in with thenatives in British India. When Strickland told Miss Youghal’sparents, her mother claimed that she would not throw herdaughter into the ‘worst paid Department in the Empire’, whileher father said that he distrusted Strickland’s ways and works,and wished that Strickland would stop contacting his daughter.Strickland then disguised himself as a sais and endeared himselfto Mrs. Youghal, all while continuing his love affair with MissYoughal.•Eventually though, the flirting of suitors got to him, and whenan old General did so, he lost his composure, revealing himself.However, the old general decided to help the couple, andeventually the two managed to get married, with theunderstanding that Strickland would stop ‘going native’.
• Despite her implied similarities with the typical Victorian era female character (well-off, shallow), she did show a streak of defiance in conducting her affair with Strickland when he disguised himself, and her similarity to girls of that age could represent an inability to break the social norms that were prevalent during those times; in other words, Miss Youghal reflects the inability of women to make their own choices back then.• This could suggest that Miss Youghal’s Sais was a story aimed at the upper class families – and one mocking their separation of class, as the ending of the story has Miss Youghal, a well- placed young lady marrying a policeman who has, to her parents’ point of view, adopted the mannerism and culture of uneducated savages.
LispethLispeth is a story of a beautiful Hill-girl who is baptized when shewas a baby. Her parents pass away in a bout of cholera and shegrows up with the Chaplain and his wife.She almost considers herself as an English woman, until she fallsin love with an Englishman who doesn’t return her love butstrings her along, lying to her that he will return to marry her, buthe never does. The Chaplain’s wife also knows this but supportsthe lie.When Lispeth finds out, she feels betrayed and leaves the English,returning to her native people, becoming a savage woman andmarrying a wood cutter who beats her.
Brief Character AnalysisLispeth undergoes a great transformation from a sophisticated,calm, almost English-like woman to a rude and savage hill womanafter the betrayal.She is weak in the sense that she easily falls in love with a ‘stranger’at first sight, and is naïve and believes the Englishman as well as theChaplain’s wife’s words.She is strong in the sense that she stands up for herself once sherealizes the truth, and leaves her old comfortable life.Thus, We find Lispeth to be a complex character, painted as bothstrong and weak, who gains both admiration and sympathy from thereaders, as certainly intended by Kipling.
Kitty BeightonKitty is the protagonist of the story Cupid’s Arrows. She is thebest female archer in the town, and is quite pretty. A wealthybut ugly Commissioner wishes to marry her, and her parentsapprove, but she loves another man.The Commissioner organizes an archery contest for women inwhich Kitty had to compete, where the winner will receive adiamond bracelet – and if she wins it, by taking the bracelet shesignifies her acceptance to marry him.However, she chooses to do things her own way anddeliberately loses the contest, although in a manner that showsshe did so purposefully, and instead leaves with the man sheloves.
Brief Character AnalysisKitty is portrayed as a tough, clever, and mischievous character fromthe beginning. She is opinionated, bold, and proud.The young lady is described as radical in her ways as she rebels againstthe Victorian values practiced on a large scale by her contemporariesby brazenly refusing to bow down to society and standing up for herlove.We can say that Kipling strays away from the norm and provides a rareperspective on literary women in this story.He emphasizes the uniqueness of Kitty Beighton’s character asopposed to how other authors portrayed their heroines in that period,by focusing on her audacious and shrewd nature, which is veryprominent throughout the story, and is the most perceptible towardsthe end.
Mrs. HauksbeeShe is the protagonist of the story The Rescue of Pluffles. In thestory, Pluffles is a callow subaltern and “trusts his ownjudgment.” He becomes attached to Mrs. Reiver, a woman whotreats him like a slave and charges money for it too.Mrs. Hauksbee and Mrs. Reiver hate each other, and when Mrs.Hauksbee comes to know about Pluffles’ attachment to her, sheuses her clever and manipulative mind to win Pluffles over.She then gets him married to his fiancé whom he had left inEngland, thus winning the “war” against Mrs. Reiver, and alsodoing some good to both Pluffles and his fiancé.
Brief Character AnalysisMrs. Hauksbee, being one of the recurring characters in Kipling’sstories, exemplifies many of the characteristic features of hisidiosyncratic writing.She seems to possess both negativity and positivity. Kiplingshows her as an experienced and quick-witted woman who hasmore than twenty-three sides to her.She is a multifaceted character, managing to exhibit goodwillalong with some hostility. Kipling has carved her character as onewhose motivations are neither simple nor clear cut.He has painted her in a way that was rarely seen in Victorian eraliterature.
Kipling preferred to portray his women in ways that were usually not found in the literature of his era. The picture he paints of his female characters is unique, diverse, and entertaining, with a touch of reality – the reality of women in the Victorian time.