The Values Of an Ideal Man in The Poem "If" By Rudyard Kipling

Categories: Rudyard Kipling

If you can be this, you’ll be an Adult! Society declares an adolescent to be an adult upon reaching the age of 18 years old. Much like a height requirement on a roller coaster ride, that age permits teenagers to experience what they once could not participate in. Many people think of age as a determinant of maturity, however, it is not the sole factor.

In his poem “If-”, Rudyard Kipling warns his son about the obstacles he will have to overcome to become a man while teaching him the characteristics of an ideal man.

Based on Kipling’s poem, maturity comes with experience. Despite his numerous valuable lessons, the poet failed to teach his son other qualities that would prepare him for manhood. Self-identity, emotional intelligence, self-reliance, and accountability are essential attributes for adulthood. An individual who knows who they are, recognizes their own emotions and those of others, relies on none other than their self, and accounts for their actions will be equipped to navigate their adult years.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla
Writer Lyla
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Society

star star star star 5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If-” was written in 1895 and published in 1910. The poem, originally a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson, is a parental guide for Kipling’s son, John. Many argue that “If-” encourages Victorian ideals of masculinity and stoicism. Victorian men were expected to gain women’s respect before marriage and impress the rest of society and their male gender. Men became victims of social pressures because their peers scrutinized their success. If they were not married, it depicted that they were not fully masculine because they did not have a family to support.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

Keeping a woman and family safe in a home and providing comfort showed success for the male sex. Being able to work through any hardships and financially provide for the family reflected that a man was also successful in the workforce, which made him respectable by his peers and other men in society.

These values are demonstrated in Rudyard Kipling’s poem. The poet’s first word of advice to the reader is having self-confidence and detaching yourself from criticism. Kipling encourages the reader to trust their self and allow for the world’s and their own doubts. He also urges the reader to be persistent in their goals and aspirations and be honest with their self when others lie about them. Kipling teaches that hatred should not be kept within yourself. According to the last line of the first stanza, modesty is an inherent aspect of masculinity. Dreaming without becoming controlled by your dreams, thinking while making realistic goals, learning from both victory and defeat and moving towards your next goal, coping with lies while having self-control, and rebuilding your legacy after enduring loss are the poet’s lessons that are found in the second stanza. Furthermore, in the third stanza, Kipling discusses taking risks without being afraid to lose all you have worked for. The poet promotes the Victorian ideal of stoic perseverance, steadfastly enduring hardship without showing your feelings or complaining. He expands on stoic perseverance by pushing the reader to not give up but rather set new limitations.

Kipling also argues that a man should not be swayed from his ideals by the common opinion of the multitudes and not play to popular sympathies. He advises the reader to demonstrate a continued empathy and communication with average people regardless of one’s personal prosperity. The poet suggests loving everyone as well, but not becoming overly attached to any one person. Kipling uses the activity of running as a metaphor to express the short amount of time we have on Earth that should be lived to its fullest potential. While the poet, acting as a parental figure, shares mostly useful information with the audience, being his son, there are a few underlying flaws in his guidance. The first flaw in Kipling’s extensive instruction lies in his teaching of the allowance of others’ doubts which may lead his son to become a ‘people pleaser’ who is afraid of confronting opposition. There is a consequence to not saying anything about your loss after risking everything you had in a game and then losing it only to start again.

As a result, you do not admit to your mistake, so you and others cannot learn from it. Then, you will probably end up making the same mistake again. Additionally, there are limits to self-reliance. To be so independent that you cannot be hurt by the ones who love you is to become isolated. In the last line of the final stanza of the poem, the poet emphasizes the notion that being the kind of man described in the previous stanzas is more important than receiving rewards. All in all, the philosophy of stoicism, which believes in the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint, is merely an act. One cannot truly attain perfection; perfection is unfulfillable. Kipling’s model of a man is only an “if,” which he believes the reader should strive toward. Despite his use of “Man”, the word does not necessarily indicate masculinity. It may be an idealized representation of mankind or humanity. (Kipling)

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
Cite this page

The Values Of an Ideal Man in The Poem "If" By Rudyard Kipling. (2024, Feb 06). Retrieved from

Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment