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Mowgli – Character from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book

Mowgli is a fictional character and the protagonist of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book stories. He is a feral child from Pench area in Central India who originally appeared in Rudyard Kipling’s short story “In the Rukh” (collected in Many Inventions, 1893) and then went on to become the most prominent and memorable character in his fantasies The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book (1894–1895), which also featured stories about other characters. The Mowgli stories, including In the Rukh, were first collected in chronological order in one volume as The Works of Rudyard Kipling Volume VII: The Jungle Book (1907) (Volume VIII of this series contained the non-Mowgli stories from the Jungle Books), and subsequently in All the Mowgli Stories (1933). In the Rukh describes how Gisborne, an English forest ranger at Pench area in Central India at the time of the British Raj, discovers a young man named Mowgli, who has extraordinary skill at hunting and tracking, and asks him to join the forestry service. Later Gisborne learns the reason for Mowgli’s almost superhuman talents: he was raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle

madhyaindia_mowgliKipling then proceeded to write the stories of Mowgli’s childhood in detail. Lost by his parents in the Indian jungle during a tiger attack, a human baby is adopted by the wolves Mother (Raksha) and Father Wolf, who call him Mowgli the Frog because of his lack of fur and his refusal to sit still. Shere Khan the tiger demands that they give him the baby but the wolves refuse. Mowgli grows up with the pack, hunting with his brother wolves. In the pack, Mowgli learned he was able to stare down any wolf, but his unique ability to remove the painful thorns from the paws of his brothers was deeply appreciated as well

Bagheera the black panther befriends Mowgli, because both he and Mowgli have parallel childhood experiences, as Bagheera often mentions, he was “raised in the King’s cages at Oodeypore” from a cub, and thus knows the ways of man. Baloo the bear, teacher of wolves, has the thankless task of educating Mowgli in The Law of the Jungle

Shere Khan continues to regard Mowgli as fair game, but eventually Mowgli finds a weapon he can use against the tiger — fire. After driving off Shere Khan, Mowgli goes to a human village where he is adopted by Messua and her husband whose own son Nathoo was also taken by a tiger. We never find out for certain if Mowgli is the returned Nathoo, although a hint that he might be is provided in the Jungle Book story “Tiger! Tiger!” where we learn that the tiger who carried off Messua’s son was lame, just as Shere Khan is lame. On the other hand, while Messua would like to believe that her son has returned, she herself realises that this is unlikely

While herding buffalo for the village Mowgli learns that the tiger is still planning to kill him, so with the aid of two wolves, he traps Shere Khan in a ravine, where the buffalo trample him. The tiger dies and Mowgli sets to skin him. Seeing this, Buldeo, a jealous hunter goads the villagers into persecuting Mowgli and his adopted parents as sorcerers. Mowgli runs back to the jungle with Shere Khan’s hide but soon learns that Buldeo and the villagers are planning to kill Messua and her husband, so he rescues them and sends elephants, water buffaloes, and other animals to trample the village and its fields to the ground

In later stories in The Second Jungle Book Mowgli finds and then discards an ancient treasure (The King’s Ankus), not realising that men will kill to own it. With the aid of Kaa the python, he leads the wolves in a war against the Dhole (Red Dog). Finally, Mowgli stumbles across the village where his adopted human mother (Messua), is now living, which forces him to come to terms with his humanity and decide whether to rejoin his fellow humans

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