The Jungle Book Literary Elements

The Jungle Book Literary Elements


Adventure, Children's Fiction

Setting and Context

India during British colonial rule predominantly in the Jungle but also in villages and a small town

Narrator and Point of View

Third person narrator who reflects the point of view of many characters

Tone and Mood

Ranging from loving, fun and happy to threatening and murderous

Protagonist and Antagonist

Mowgli, and the Pack including Baloo, Baheera and Kaa are the protagonists, Shere Khan, the Red Dogs and Man are the antagonists. Rikki-Tiki-Tavi is the protagonist, Nag and Nagaina the cobras the antagonists

Major Conflict

Mowgli's battle with Shere Khan, the Pack's battle with the red dogs, the jungle's conflict with man the hunter, Mowgli's conflict with himself regarding returning to man, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's conflict with the cobras


Killing of Shere Khan, destruction of the village, victory over the red dogs


The White Cobra's warning to Mowgli that death will follow the elephant head-dress he removes from the underground palace foreshadows six deaths amongst the people hunting for it


Rikki-Tikk-Tavi is told that to follow a snake into a burrow can be dangerous which understated the life threatening nature of his actions.


The entire structure of the Jungle with its rules, laws and councils is an allusion of the human world. The council has a leader, and all members of the community get a vote when they are old enough. They enter conflict when it is necessary to keep out an invading army (such as the red dogs) and they engage everyone in the battle in some way. They have rules, laws and traditions passed down the generations and if anyone breaks these laws they are made to pay. There are characters who are obviously generals and others who are foot soldiers but the jungle lives basically as a democratic state with benevolent rule. This reflects Kipling's view of India, in that the British leaders maintain a safety and democracy that keeps the Indians safe and in line.


Council Rock is where the most important member of the pack sits during council gatherings and when Mowgli places Shere Khan's tiger skin over it the rock becomes symbolic of victory over evil and wrongdoing.


Mowgli believes that if he ever has to leave the jungle it will be the jungle that makes him go, but as both Akela and Baloo tell him, it is Mowgli who makes Mowgli return to man.


Kipling parallels the way in which Akela inspires his pack to follow his lead and the way Shere Khan has collected followers to illustrate the difference between Akela's benevolent leadership and Shere Khan's dishonesty and bullying. This also shows the difference between Akela's intentions which are for the good of the future of the pack, and Shere Khan's, which are to get the kill he wants regardless of whether it is good for anyone else or outside of the boundaries of jungle law.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

There is metonymy throughout the book when it comes to The Jungle. The Jungle decides what happens to a character but by this Kipling actually means the characters within it not the jungle itself. Jungle Law is also law that has been passed down through generations of jungle dwellers.


"The Ankus will do my work! It is death! It is death! It is death!"
The King's Ankus

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