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On reading the Pears’ soap advertisement, one is immediately drawn to the words ‘cleanliness, lightening the white man’s burden, brightening the dark corners of the earth as civilization advances, among the cultured nations it holds the highest place.’ The context…
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Assignment 10
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These words are brought to life from the picture in the advertisement. We see a ship that appears to have docked and is unloading cargo which is Pears’ soap, and another picture showing a black man crouching in front a white man with a bar of soap by their side. It is implied that the white man has brought in the soap to help the black man achieve cleanliness which is the mark of western civilization. This can also be seen from the picture of the white man who seems to have washed his hands in a very clean bathroom. He is meant to epitomize cleanliness that is the mark of the white man’s civilization. (Picturing the Past)
Non Europeans are referred to as ‘dark corners’. The white man is said to use the soap to brighten the dark corners of the earth; which they consider their burden, as civilization advances. This refers to non Europeans who are supposed to be receiving civilization by being made clean. The picture of non Europeans that is presented in the advertisement is one who is inferior to the white man, crouching before him to receive the gift of civilization, Pears’ soap. (Picturing the Past)
The phrase ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ can be related to this advertisement because both the phrase and the image portray the white man as superior and the helper to Non Europeans. This is because these are God-like traits that the white man is assuming in trying to ‘lighten their burden’, i.e. make everyone like them, which is also a God-like trait as he made everyone in his own image. (Picturing the Past)
The white man’s burden is to bring cleanliness to the whole world by lightening up the dark corners of the earth, and the use of Pears’ soap will enable everyone who uses it to achieve cleanliness. By accepting to use the soap, Non Europeans will be accepting the white man’s ways and in the process lightening up the dark corners of the earth. (Picturing the Past)
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