Analyzing Rudyard Kipling’s story Rikki Tikki TAVI and Shirley Jackson’s Charles
In the short story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, a mongoose lives with a family of people, and fights the snakes Nag and his wife Nagaina to save his family. In the short story “Charles” by Shirley Jackson, a boy named Laurie goes to kindergarten and makes up a fake child to keep himself from getting into trouble. In both “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Charles”, there are multiple similarities as well as differences in protagonists and antagonists.
Between the two stories, there are three main similarities in protagonists. One of the similarities in both protagonists is that they’re both clever and smart characters. Both Rikki and Laurie use their intelligence to their advantage. Rikki is very curious, and ends up finding a way to kill both Nag and Nagaina, as well as destroy their eggs. Laurie is also very smart because he makes up an entirely new character to cover up his own mistakes and punishments, which is quite impressive considering he’s only in kindergarten. Another similarity in both Laurie and Rikki-Tikki is that they both want to get attention and be noticed by others. After reading “Charles”, I thought right away that Laurie got into trouble because he wanted attention from someone. Rikki-Tikki also seemed to want to get attention. At one point in the story he is sung to, and at multiple parts he sleeps under Teddy’s chin and is fussed over by Teddy’s family. The last common similarity in protagonists is the fact that they both have an evil side. In “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, Rikki wants to destroy Nag and Nagaina’s eggs. Even though he does it to keep the garden and people safe, he’s killing babies, which is evil. In “Charles”, Laurie was evil too. In the story he hit the teacher, bounced a seesaw on a girl’s head until she was bleeding, threw chalk, yelled, and did countless other things. Overall, even though there two stories seem entirely different at a glance, there are definitely some main similarities in both protagonists.
However, though there may be a couple significant similarities in protagonists, there are quite a few pretty significant differences as well. A definite difference in the two protagonists is their attitudes. While Rikki is seen as very well-mannered and heroic, Laurie is definitely looked at as mean, rude, and fresh. At one point in “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” it says “…and Rikki-Tikki had sprung, jumped on the snake’s back, dropped his head far between his forelegs, bitten as high up the back as he could get hold, and rolled away…” (page 20). Rikki saved both humans and animals from death, but Laurie was mean through the entire story (throwing crayons, telling a little girl to say bad words, etc.). Another certain difference in both Laurie and Rikki is their attitudes toward their families in specific. Laurie is absolutely rude to his family. On page 299, he exclaims “Hi Pop, y’old dust mop.” On page 298 he exclaims, “Look up. Look down. Look at my thumb. Gee, you’re dumb.” Rikki on the other hand basically gives up his personal life to save his family and the other animals from the deadly snakes. The last main difference between protagonists is the fact that Laurie doesn’t reach his goal, but Rikki-Tikki definitely does. The main goal for Rikki is to kill the snakes and keep his family safe, which he reaches in the end. Laurie’s goal is to stay out of getting caught for being in trouble in school, which he didn’t reach, because his parents found out that he was “Charles”. In the end, there are a good amount of clear differences in protagonists in the stories.
In “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Charles”, there are similarities in antagonists as well. To being with, Charles and Nag/Nagaina both have similar attitudes. In “Charles”, Charles is very rude, and ends up hurting the other kindergarteners, as well as the teacher and her friend. Nag and Nagaina make plans to kill the people and the mongoose, which obviously isn’t very nice either. One other similarity in antagonists is the fact that both characters want power. Nag and Nagaina both wish to kill the mongoose and the family so that they can raise their eggs and rule the garden. Charles also wanted power because he got in trouble all the time, and was a made-up child. Laurie got the attention for making up this child that was really himself, which gave him power to lie to his parents and make them believe him. The last main similarity of Charles and Nag/Nagaina is that they definitely both want the best for themselves. On page 298, it says “Charles bounced a seesaw onto the head of a little girl and made her bleed and the teacher made him stay inside all recess”. Most likely Charles didn’t want the best for the little girl, but rather for himself. Nag and Nagaina wanted the best environment for their children to be raised, so they try to kill anyone that gets in the way. After reading the stories, I realized that there are many similarities in both antagonists.
Though there are many similarities in Charles and Nag/Nagaina, I found multiple differences as well. The first difference between Charles and Nag/Nagaina is the two totally different types of desires that they have. Nag and Nagaina have very violent and dangerous goals, such as killing the people and Rikki. Charles, on the other hand has far more stupid and childish desires. Even though Charles throwing chalk and kicking a teacher may seem mean, Nag and Nagaina having the desire to kill people are two different things. Furthermore, a main difference between the antagonists is their reasoning to be rude and mean to others, and their goals. Charles is rude to others because he’s just a kindergartener, and may want to just start trouble. Nag and Nagaina want to protect themselves, as well as their eggs from anything that might harm them. The largest and most important difference between antagonists is the type of characters they are. There is Charles, who truly isn’t even a real person, but rather a made-up kindergartener used to keep Laurie out of trouble. Nag and Nagaina are two snakes that have been personified and speak to other species. This is the most important difference because a made-up kindergartener and two animals that have been personified differ largely. Even though there are differences in every two stories that are contrasted, I found quite a few when reading “Charles” and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”.
In both “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Charles”, there are multiple similarities as well as differences in protagonists and antagonists. The similarities in protagonists include both characters being clever, both wanting attention, and both having a darker side. The differences in protagonists are their overall attitudes, whether or not they are positive to their family, and whether or not they reach their goals. The similarities in the antagonists are their attitudes, the fact that they both want power, and the fact that they both want the best for themselves. The differences in the antagonists include their different types of desires, their reasoning to be negative to others, and most of all the different type of characters they are. When reading these stories, I learned a lot about literary elements, and also found myself comparing and contrasting characters.
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