Following are some symbols Kipling deliberately develops in The Man Who Would be King. The crown on the head of an almighty king may enhance his royal authority, but on a desiccated head of an impostor, it becomes a piquant symbol of mockery. The red beard Dravot flaunts may evoke frightening images of a god or a devil in an awestruck Kafiristanian's mind. That is to say until it is proven that the red beard grows on a human face as plainly as red blood comes out of a human not of a god or a devil. Again, the rising sun may impart imperial supremacy, but the sun is bound to set. All these symbols have dualistic values and meanings and Kipling fully utilizes the dual aspects of these symbols.
Now, let's investigate irony in Kipling's portrayal of the British imperialism in India.