How did Darwin’s book change perceptions of animals – and humans?
As shown by its publishing success, Expression resonated with Victorian readers. The correspondence testifies that Darwin’s work was admired by experts and laymen alike, that the book was known in all classes of society, and that the subject was being studied beyond the western world.
Darwin’s book had long-lasting consequences for the way that animals were represented; but identifying human expressions with those of animals also raised some contentious issues and brought some mockery.
In the three months following the appearance of Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, the Victorian humour magazine Fun published several cartoons and even a poem devoted to the book. One exploits Darwin’s view of human emotions being similar to that of animals. Another uses the title of the book to evoke a Boxing Day hangover.