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Animals as Humans

Animals as Humans


Larks Family

Alte und Neue Welt [1870]: Illustriertes Katholisches Familienblatt Zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung, selection from p. 384, 1870, published by Benziger Brothers: New York, USA

The nineteenth century saw a rise in popularity of animal families in print, especially of birds.[1] Songbirds were particularly trendy in depicting the ideals valued in human families, such as devotion between lovers, attention lavished upon the young, and remarkable nest construction; birds also demonstrated the dangers faced by families. In this wood carving we see a family scene of a mother lark tending to her chicks, with their home threatened by the looming harvest. In case the human-animal connection did not fully register with the audience, the artist has accessorized the avian family with clothing, one young male even clutching a miniature umbrella.



The Three Bears

Grimm’s Household Stories, selection from p. 8, nineteenth century, Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, published by George Munro's Sons: New York, USA

This well-known fairytale uses a set of bears to demonstrate some ideal values of decent human beings. The animals allow their porridge to cool, restraining any gluttonous desire to gobble up the food. They leave their door unlocked, because they are ‘good’ and do not harm others, and thus expect reciprocal treatment. The inhabitants also leave their bedroom windows open after waking in the morning, as is expected of good, tidy beings. The little girl, Silver-hair, acts as an antithesis of the good animals, proving to be a house-invader, impatient for the occupants’ return, and leaving a mess in her wake.



[1] Pets in America, p. 164, 2006, Grier, Katherine C., published by the University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, USA