"The Jungle Book" Quotes

Rudyard Kipling's Beloved Collection of Short Stories

The Jungle Book (1894) cover image, The Century Co.

Rudyard Kipling/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" is a collection of stories centered around anthropomorphized animal characters and a "man-cub" named Mowgli in the jungles of India, the most famous adaptation of which is Disney's 1967 animated feature film of the same title.

The collection is divided into seven stories, many of which have been adapted into their own films and plays, most notably of which are "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" and "Mowgli's Brothers," on which the Disney film was based.

"The Jungle Book" is the English writer and poet Kipling's most famous work, noted for his rich use of metaphor and beautifully descriptive prose to recall a time in his life he spent amongst the wildlife of India's plush jungles—explore a few of the best quotes from this collection below.

The Law of the Jungle: "Mowgli's Brothers"

Kipling begins "The Jungle Book" with the story of the young man-cub Mowgli who is raised by wolves and adopted by a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera when the pack deems him too dangerous to keep around into his adulthood.

Although the wolf pack grew to love Mowgli as one of their own, their deep ties to the "Law of the Jungle" force them to give him up when he begins to grow into an adult man:

"The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting-grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him."

Even though the Law also states that "there is no harm in a man's cub," Mowgli is coming of age at the beginning of the story, and he must come to terms with the idea that he is hated only because of what he is, not who he has become: "The others they hate thee because their eyes cannot meet thine; because thou art wise; because thou hast pulled out thorns from their feet—because thou art a man."

Still, when Mowgli is called on to defend the wolf pack from the tiger Shere Khan, he uses fire to defeat his deadly foe because, as Kipling puts it, "every beast lives in deadly fear of it."

Other Stories Associated With "The Jungle Book" Film

Although the principle journey of Mowgli takes place in "Mowgli's Brothers," the Disney adaptation also used parts of "Maxims of Baloo," "Kaa's Hunting" and "Tiger! Tiger!" to influence not only the original 1967 film but the sequel "The Jungle Book 2," which relies heavily on the narrative of Mowgli's return to the village in "Tiger! Tiger!"

For all the characters in the film, the writers took Kipling's words in "Kaa's Hunting," "none of the Jungle People like being disturbed" to heart, but it was "The Maxims of Baloo" that influenced the bear's happy-go-lucky disposition and respect of all around him: "Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother, For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother."

Mowgli's later life is laid out in "Tiger! Tiger!" where he determines "Well, if I am a man, a man I must become" as he re-enters human life in the village after scaring off Shere Khan the first time. Mowgli uses the lessons he learned in the jungle, like "life and food depend on keeping your temper," to adapt to life as a man, but ultimately returns to the jungle when Shere Khan reappears.

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Lombardi, Esther. ""The Jungle Book" Quotes." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, thoughtco.com/rudyard-kipling-the-jungle-book-quotes-740312. Lombardi, Esther. (2021, September 3). "The Jungle Book" Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rudyard-kipling-the-jungle-book-quotes-740312 Lombardi, Esther. ""The Jungle Book" Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rudyard-kipling-the-jungle-book-quotes-740312 (accessed March 23, 2023).