Themes and message

The main themes raised by the poem “The Brown Man’s Burden” by Henry Du Pré Labouchère are imperialist domination, racism and freedom.

Imperialist domination

As you have seen, the poem describes the actions and attitudes of colonial powers - symbolised by ‘the white man’ - concerning the natives in the colonies.

Unlike Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden”, which depicts the civilising force of the empire legitimising colonialism, Labouchère’s poem argues that colonialism is nothing but imperial domination over others.

All the actions listed in “The Brown Man’s Burden” show the many ways in which colonies only serve the interests of the coloniser. Colonial powers only seek their own gain and have no positive impact on the lives of natives:

“The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.”
 (ll. 15-16)

“Seize on his ports and pastures,
The fields

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