The short story “Lispeth” by Rudyard Kipling follows a traditional plot structure enhanced by narrative elements such as narrative hook and backstory. The narrative hook is an epigram which hints at the author’s scepticism about imposing Christianity on local people in the colonies. Backstories help give context to the circumstances of Lispeth, the protagonist.

The story features three key characters: Lispeth, the Englishman, and the Chaplain's wife. Lispeth is the protagonist of the plot and a developing character. The other two characters help illustrate typical British attitudes, which are contrasted with the customs of the locals.

The plot is set in Kotgarh village, during the British rule in India. The social setting explores aspects related to Christianity, and imperialist attitudes versus the local culture.

“Lispeth” is a third-person narration told by a narrator who has extensive knowledge about the characters and whose subjectivity is conveyed through irony and the occasional use of the first-person.

The language of the story reflects the time period in which it was written. It occasionally features metaphors and similes to present more vivid descriptions of events, and efficient use of symbolism helps illustrate the main themes of the text.

Further help

Short story analysis

For more advice about analysing short stories, you can read our general guide to short story analysis.