Rudyard Kipling`s Perception of Canada

Term Paper, 2009

24 Pages, Grade: 2



1. Introduction

2. Theory on stereotypes
2.1 Stereotypes in School

3. About the author – Rudyard Kipling

4. The Image of Canada

5. The Attitude and stereotypical images of Canadians

6. Conclusion

7. References

1. Introduction

The following term paper deals with Rudyard Kipling´s perception of Canada in his letters “From Sea to Sea” and “Letters to the Family”. Kipling went to Canada twice in his younger years. In his letters, Kipling writes about experiences in his travels. To analyze his perception of Canada, two main topics were chosen: Firstly, the “Image of Canada” and secondly “The attitude and stereotypical images of Canadians” in Kipling´s texts “From Sea to Sea” and “Letters to the Family”.

At the very beginning of this term paper I will give a general overview about the “Theory on stereotypes”. Because of the fact that I will be a future teacher it is essential to me to also take a look on “Stereotypes in school” as I named the following aspect. It is important to know how to handle stereotypes in class because the students should learn tolerant thinking.

After that, a closer look at the author - Rudyard Kipling - will be taken. A short biography will inform the reader about his life and the background of his thinking.

The main part of that work is divided into two topics, “The image of Canada“ and “Attitudes and stereotypical images of Canadians”. Here, Kipling´s perception will be discussed, analyzed and proven by several quotes.

To round this off, a conclusion will be drawn in the end.

2. Theory on stereotypes

Stereotype is a term that has its origin in 1789, when the two Greek words “stereos” and “typos” got together. It derives from στερεός (stereos) "solid, firm” and τύπος (t ypos) "blow, impression, engraved mark” hence "solid impression" (cf. 04.03.2009). The term, in its modern psychology sense, was first used by the journalist Walter Lippmann in his 1922 work Public Opinion although in the printing sense it was first coined 1798 as mentioned above. Lippmann introduced the word into technical literature. For him, stereotypes were “pictures in our head”, which need not to concur with reality but which influence our behavior more than reality (cf. Ikas, 2000, p. 101). Stereotypes are defined in a number of different ways. Many people tried to find definitions. One of them is Miller. In his opinion, stereotypes are a generalized, simplified and fixed image or attitude of all members of a culture, a group or a person, for example based on nationality, religion, ethnicity or age.

Gordon W. Allport imagines that stereotypes are a part of one`s attitude to justify his behavior. People exaggerate and generalize chosen indications. It has to be mentioned that generalizations about people are based on limited, sometimes inaccurate, information (from such sources as television, cartoons or comic books, minimal contact with one or more members of the group, second-hand information) (cf. 04.03.2009).

So, when stereotyping people, we prejudge them. We assume that all people in a group have the same traits. This is a form of blind categorization and leads to false assumptions about people and causes misunderstandings, hostility, abusive behaviors, conflicts, discrimination, and prejudice (cf. http://the_english_dept.tripod .com/stereo2 .htm 04.03.2009). An example:

If we are looking at unemployed people, lots of citizens think that they are only lazy and do not want to work, that they sleep the whole day, sit in front of the TV eating crisps. But in reality only a few people are as described above. A lot of people who are out of work are searching for a job but do not find one or do not have enough support.

Monika Hoffarth has nearly the same position towards stereotypes. She thinks that stereotypes give a simplified and warped picture of reality that hand down preconceived opinions.

Dorfmüller believes that “(Ein) Stereotyp ist eine feste Meinung über ein Objekt/Sachverhalt beziehungsweise `eine Klasse von solchen, dem gewisse, meist negative Merkmale zugesprochen werden`“(Dorfmüller, 1991, p. 286).

Stereotypes can be either positive or negative (as mentioned above), but they are all unfair and misleading.

In general, stereotypes reduce individuals to a rigid, inflexible image; they do not account for the fact that human beings are complex and multidimensional, with unique attributes. Stereotypes suggest that people or groups of people are the same, when, in fact, they are quite different. Stereotypes about human beings tend to dehumanize people, placing all members of a group into one, simple category ( 04.03.2009).

Stereotypes have appeared and developed for centuries and contributed stereotypical pictures towards nations or races in literature. One example are the Blacks who were stereotyped as content slaves (cf. Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 340).

Klaus Lubbers investigated the development of white prejudice towards the Indian in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century expository texts and he “perceived that heterostereotyping proved inseparably from, because determined by, autostereotyping” (cf. Lubbers, 1987, p. 180) (cf. Meindl, Horlacher, 1985, p.129). Before this publication, nobody had written about a systematic inquiry of how the white image of the Indian developed over time. The problem before was that the scholars could not dissociate themselves from the ideology developed by nineteenth- century authors. So they failed in their effort (cf. Lubbers, 1987, p. 181).

Stereotypes can have different functions in texts: An important function is that they can be chosen as an artifice/trick (Kunstgriff) consciously by an author:

Der Verstehensprozess zwischen Text und Leser soll damit erleichtert werden. Als geistige Vorstellung über eine gesellschaftliche Gruppe und ihre Mitglieder reduzieren sie die Fremdheit der fremden Kultur und lassen den Leser sie durch kulturelle Erwartungen erahnen, während sie ihn gleichzeitig ermutigen, hinter die stereotypisierenden Eigenschaften der einzelnen Charaktere zu schauen (nach Bar-Tal, 1989, Keller 1969. In: Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 339).

Another aspect is the following:

Die Eigenkultur wird in den Vordergrund gestellt und im Gegensatz zur Fremdkultur glorifiziert (nach Bredella, 1988. In: Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 339).


Bei einer Stereotype handelt es sich um eine Form eines Urteils bzw. einer Einstellung, die wertend und generalisierend ist und sich auf ein ausgewähltes Merkmal einer sozialen Gruppe oder eines Mitgliedes einer sozialen Gruppe bezieht, das zur Rechtfertigung eines Verhaltens benutzt wird.

2.1 Stereotypes in School

Stereotypes have to be discussed in school. Students have to be taught about how to deal with stereotypes because we live in a globalized world and nearly everybody has contact to foreigners in Germany or in another country. Because of this fact, intercultural communication, the role stereotypes play and how to handle them, is essential. Secondly it is important for a more tolerant thinking (cf. Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 337). Also generalizations, the basis for stereotyping, represent a natural part of the learning process, when they are directed at human beings, they can be dangerous and harmful and because of that it should be discussed in school

(cf. 04.03.2009). Students should recognize stereotypical thinking, should be aware of that and they should correct them. “Civil societies can only thrive when damaging stereotypes are broken down. The difficulty is that stereotypes are sometimes hard to recognize because they are fixed beliefs. Learning to identify stereotypes is one of the first steps we must take to build a civil society” (

Gottfried Keller distinguishes between auto- and heterostereotypes. “Die Ausbildung und Korrektur dieses Selbst- und Fremdverständnisses kann als allgemein anerkanntes und sekundäres Ziel des Fremdsprachenunterrichts benannt werden” (Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 337). „[…] das Ziel des Fremdsprachenstudenten und –lehrers sollte, so Keller (1986), die Angleichung derselben sein, indem die eigene Kultur durch die Augen der Fremdkultur gesehen wird (Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 339). So, the students should „see“ their own country or culture through the eyes of a foreigner (cf. Hoffarth-Zelloe, 1995, p. 340).

Intercultural communication has become more and more important over the past years because we live in a world where everything is becoming global. A few centuries ago, only people who dealt with international businesses needed to think about intercultural communication, stereotyping and its problems. Today, also ordinary people from different cultures come into contact with each other. Companies work more and more globally instead of locally. We live in a multicultural society with a variety of cultures. Stereotyping has become a topic which concerns everybody.

Because of the aspects mentioned above, intercultural learning and how to deal with stereotypes are essential parts in learning as well as in teaching. Intercultural aspects are involved in our daily life and this is why intercultural teaching is becoming more important.

The novel or movie “Bend it like Beckham” is an opportunity to deal with the two above mentioned topics for example in a class. The protagonist Jesminder Bhamra is Indian and lives with her family in London. Her favourite activity is playing football and that causes trouble in her traditional thinking family. In this novel or movie, many people stereotype other groups and therefore it would be an interesting thing for classes.

3. About the author – Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay/India on 30th December 1865 as son of John Lockwood Kipling (both went by their middle name) who was an artist and teacher at the Bombay School of Arts. His mother´s family is a family of accomplished women (cf. biograph.htm 23.03.2009). Rudyard spent his first five years in India, where he had a happy childhood and came into contact with Indian customs, traditions and the culture. But then, his parents sent him to England where he had to live with a foster family in Southsea. The parents left their children in the complete care of strangers who they found through a newspaper advertisement.

The simplest and most widely attested explanation for why they would perpetrate such Dickensian cruelty is that Ruddy had become a holy terror whose boisterous antics over previous visits had left family members indisposed to babysitting (Bloom, 2004, p.14).

They mistreated him. His parents sent him there because of his education. At the age of 16 Rudyard Kipling returned to India and worked as a newspaper reporter, journalist (on the Civil and Military Gazette) and part-time writer (cf. Harness, 2004, p. 9). This helped him to “to gain a rich experience of colonial life which he later presented in his stories and poems” ( 23.03.2009). At this time Kipling started to publish the first poems and stories which soon gained him an audience back in England. In 1889 he returned to England and married his American girlfriend Caroline Balestier.


Excerpt out of 24 pages


Rudyard Kipling`s Perception of Canada
University of Frankfurt (Main)  (Institut für England-und Amerikastudien)
Images of Canada in British Literature from 18th century to the present
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
493 KB
Rudyard Kipling, Canada
Quote paper
Katharina Keil (Author), 2009, Rudyard Kipling`s Perception of Canada, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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