The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

Chapter 10: Hatred and Anger

Charles Darwin

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Hatred--Rage, effects of on the system--Uncovering of the teeth-- Rage in the insane--Anger and indignation--As expressed by the various races of man--Sneering and defiance--The uncovering of the canine tooth on one side of the face.

IF we have suffered or expect to suffer some willful injury from a man, or if he is in any way offensive to us, we dislike him; and dislike easily rises into hatred. Such feelings, if experienced in a moderate degree, are not clearly expressed by any movement of the body or features, excepting perhaps by a certain gravity of behaviour, or by some ill-temper. Few individuals, however, can long reflect about a hated person, without feeling and exhibiting signs of indignation or rage. But if the offending person be quite insignificant, we experience merely disdain or contempt. If, on the other hand, he is all-powerful, then hatred passes into terror, as when a slave thinks about a cruel master, or a savage about a bloodthirsty malignant deity.[1] Most of our emotions are so closely connected with their expression, that they hardly exist if the body remains passive--the nature of the expression depending in chief part on the

(238) nature of the actions which have been habitually performed under this particular state of the mind. A man, for instance, may know that his life is in the extremest peril, and may strongly desire to save if; yet, as Louis XVI. said, when surrounded by a fierce mob, "Am I afraid? feel my pulse." So a man may intensely hate another, but until his bodily frame is affected, he cannot be said to be enraged.

Rage.--I have already had occasion to treat of this emotion in the third chapter, when discussing the direct influence of the excited sensorium on the body, in combination with the effects of habitually associated actions. Rage exhibits itself in the most diversified manner. The heart and circulation are always affected; the face reddens or becomes purple, with the veins on the forehead and neck distended. The reddening of the skin has been observed with the copper-coloured Indians of South America,[2] and even, as it is said, on the white cicatrices left by old wounds on negroes.[3] Monkeys also redden from passion. With one of my own infants, under four months old, I repeatedly observed that the first symptom of an approaching passion was the rushing of the blood into his bare scalp. On the other hand, the action of the heart is sometimes so much impeded by great rage, that the countenance becomes pallid or livid,[4] and not a few men with heart-disease have dropped down dead under this powerful emotion.


The respiration is likewise affected; the chest heaves, and the dilated nostrils quiver.[5] As Tennyson writes, "sharp breaths of anger puffed her fairy nostrils out." Hence we have such expressions as breathing out vengeance," and "fuming with anger."[6]

The excited brain gives strength to the muscles, and at the same time energy to the will. The body is commonly held erect ready for instant action, but sometimes it is bent forward towards the offending person, with the limbs more or less rigid. The mouth is generally closed with firmness, showing fixed determination, and the teeth are clenched or ground together. Such gestures as the raising of the arms, with the fists clenched, as if to strike the offender, are common. Few men in a great passion, and telling some one to begone, can resist acting as if they intended to strike or push the man violently away. The desire, indeed, to strike often becomes so intolerably strong, that inanimate objects are struck or dashed to the ground; but the gestures frequently become altogether purposeless or frantic. Young children, when in a violent rage roll on the ground on their backs or bellies, screaming, kicking, scratching,

(240) or biting everything within reach. So it is, as I hear from Mr. Scott, with Hindoo children; and, as we have seen, with the young of the anthropomorphous apes. But the muscular system is often affected in a wholly different way; for trembling is a frequent consequence of extreme rage. The paralysed lips then refuse to obey the will, "and the voice sticks in the throat;"[7] or it is rendered loud, harsh, and discordant. If there be much and rapid speaking, the mouth froths. The hair sometimes bristles; but I shall return to this subject in another chapter, when I treat of the mingled emotions of rage and terror. There is in most cases a strongly-marked frown on the forehead; for this follows from the sense of anything displeasing or difficult, together with concentration of mind. But sometimes the brow, instead of being much contracted and lowered, remains smooth, with the glaring eyes kept widely open. The eyes are always bright, or may, as Homer expresses it, glisten with fire. They are sometimes bloodshot, and are said to protrude from their sockets--the result, no doubt, of the head being gorged with blood, as shown by the veins being distended. According to Gratiolet,[8] the pupils are always contracted in rage, and I hear from Dr. Crichton Browne that this is the case in the fierce delirium of meningitis; but the movements of the iris under the influence of the different emotions is a very obscure subject.

Shakspeare sums up the chief characteristics of rage as follows:--

"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height! On, on, you noblest English."

Henry V., act iii. sc. 1.

 The lips are sometimes protruded during rage in a manner, the meaning of which I do not understand, unless it depends on our descent from some ape-like animal. Instances have been observed, not only with Europeans, but with the Australians and Hindoos. The lips, however, are much more commonly retracted, the grinning or clenched teeth being thus exposed. This has been noticed by almost every one who has written on expression.[9] The appearance is as if the teeth were uncovered, ready for seizing or tearing an enemy, though there may be no intention of acting in this manner. Mr. Dyson Lacy has seen this grinning expression with the Australians, when quarrelling, and so has Gaika with the Kafirs of South America. Dickens,[10] in speaking of an atrocious murderer who had just been caught, and was surrounded by a furious mob, describes "the people as jumping up one behind another, snarling with their teeth, and making at him like wild beasts." Every one who has had much to do with young children

(242) must have seen how naturally they take to biting, when in a passion. It seems as instinctive in them as in young crocodiles, who snap their little jaws as soon as they emerge from the egg.

A grinning expression and the protrusion of the lips appear sometimes to go together. A close observer says that he has seen many instances of intense hatred (which can hardly be distinguished from rage, more or less suppressed) in Orientals, and once in an elderly English woman. In all these cases there "was a grin, not a scowl--the lips lengthening, the cheeks settling downwards, the eyes half-closed, whilst the brow remained perfectly calm."[11]

This retraction of the lips and uncovering of the teeth during paroxysms of rage, as if to bite the offender, is so remarkable, considering how seldom the teeth are used by men in fighting, that I inquired from Dr. J. Crichton Browne whether the habit was common in the insane whose passions are unbridled. He informs me that he has repeatedly observed it both with the insane and idiotic, and has given me the following illustrations:--

Shortly before receiving my letter, be witnessed an uncontrollable outbreak of anger and delusive jealousy in an insane lady. At first she vituperated her husband, and whilst doing so foamed at the mouth. Next she approached close to him with compressed lips, and a virulent set frown. Then she drew back her lips, especially the corners of the upper lip, and showed her teeth, at the same time aiming a vicious blow at him. A second case is that of an old soldier, who, when he is requested to conform to the rules of the establishment, gives way to discontent, terminating in fury. He commonly begins

(243) by asking Dr. Browne whether he is not ashamed to treat him in such a manner. He then swears and blasphemes, paces tip and down, tosses his arms wildly about, and menaces any one near him. At last, as his exasperation culminates, he rushes up towards Dr. Browne with a peculiar sidelong movement, shaking his doubled fist, and threatening destruction. Then his upper lip may be seen to be raised, especially at the corners, so that his huge canine teeth are exhibited. He hisses forth his curses through his set teeth, and his whole expression assumes the character of extreme ferocity. A similar description is applicable to another man, excepting that he generally foams at the mouth and spits, dancing and jumping about in a strange rapid manner, shrieking out his maledictions in a shrill falsetto voice.

Dr. Browne also informs me of the case of an epileptic idiot, incapable of independent movements, and who spends the whole day in playing with some toys; but his temper is morose and easily roused into fierceness. When any one touches his toys, he slowly raises his head from its habitual downward position, and fixes his eyes on the offender, with a tardy yet angry scowl. If the annoyance be repeated, he draws back his thick lips and reveals a prominent row of hideous fangs (large canines being especially noticeable), and then makes a quick and cruel clutch with his open hand at the offending person. The rapidity of this clutch, as Dr. Browne remarks, is marvellous in a being ordinarily so torpid that he takes about fifteen seconds, when attracted by any noise, to turn his head from one side to the other. If, when thus incensed, a handkerchief, book, or other article, be placed into his hands, he drags it to his mouth and bites it. Mr. Nicol has likewise described to me two cases of insane patients, whose lips are retracted during paroxysms of rage.


Dr. Maudsley, after detailing various strange animal-like traits in idiots, asks whether these are not due to the reappearance of primitive instincts--"a faint echo from a far-distant past, testifying to a kinship which man has almost outgrown." He adds, that as every human brain passes, in the course of its development, through the same stages as those occurring in the lower vertebrate animals, and as the brain of an idiot is in an arrested condition, we may presume that it "will manifest its most primitive functions, and no higher functions." Dr. Maudsley thinks that the same view may be extended to the brain in its degenerated condition in some insane patients; and asks, whence come "the savage snarl, the destructive disposition, the obscene language, the wild howl, the offensive habits, displayed by some of the insane? Why should a human being, deprived of his reason, ever become so brutal in character, as some do, unless he has the brute nature within him?"[12] This question must, as it would appear, he answered in the affirmative.

Anger, Indignation.--These states of the mind differ from rage only in degree, and there is no marked distinction in their characteristic signs. Under moderate anger the action of the heart is a little increased, the colour heightened, and the eyes become bright. The respiration is likewise a little hurried; and as all the muscles serving for this function act in association, the wings of the nostrils are somewhat raised to allow of a free indraught of air; and this is a highly characteristic sign of indignation. The mouth is commonly compressed, and there is almost always a frown on the brow. Instead of the frantic gestures of extreme rage, an indignant man unconsciously throws himself into an atti-

(245)-tude ready for attacking or striking his enemy, whom he will perhaps scan from head to foot in defiance. He carries his head erect, with his chest well expanded, and the feet planted firmly on the ground. He holds his arms in various positions, with one or both elbows squared, or with the arms rigidly suspended by his sides. With Europeans the fists are commonly clenched.[13] The figures 1 and 2 in Plate VI. are fairly good representations of men simulating indignation. Any one may see in a mirror, if he will vividly imagine that he has been insulted and demands an explanation in an angry tone of voice, that he suddenly and unconsciously throws himself into some such attitude. 

Rage, anger, and indignation are exhibited in nearly the same manner throughout the world; and the following descriptions may be worth giving as evidence of this, and as illustrations of some of the foregoing remarks. There is, however, an exception with respect to clenching the fists, which seems confined chiefly to the men who fight with their fists. With the Australians only one of my informants has seen the fists clenched. All agree about the body being held erect; and all, with two exceptions, state that the brows are heavily contracted. Some of them allude to the firmly-compressed mouth, the distended nostrils, and flashing eyes. According to the Rev. Mr. Taplin, rage, with the Australians, is expressed by the lips being protruded, the eyes being widely open; and in the case of the women by their dancing about and casting dust into the air. Another ob-

(246)-server speaks of the native men, when enraged, throwing their arms wildly about.

I have received similar accounts, except as to the clenching of the fists, in regard to the Malays of the Malacca peninsula, the Abyssinians, and the natives of South Africa. So it is with the Dakota Indians of North America; and, according to Mr. Matthews, they then hold their heads erect, frown, and often stalk away with long strides. Mr. Bridges states that the Fuegians, when enraged, frequently stamp on the ground, walk distractedly about, sometimes cry and grow pale. The Rev. Mr. Stack watched a New Zealand man and woman quarrelling, and made the following entry in his note-book: "Eyes dilated, body swayed violently backwards and forwards, head inclined forwards, fists clenched, now thrown behind the body, now directed towards each other's faces." Mr. Swinhoe says that my description agrees with what he has seen of the Chinese, excepting that an angry man generally inclines his body towards his antagonist, and pointing at him, pours forth a volley of abuse.

Lastly, with respect to the natives of India, Mr. J. Scott has sent me a full description of their gestures and expression when enraged. Two low-caste Bengalees disputed about a loan. At first they were calm, but soon grew furious and poured forth the grossest abuse on each other's relations and progenitors for many generations past. Their gestures were very different from those of Europeans; for though their chests were expanded and shoulders squared, their arms remained rigidly suspended, with the elbows turned inwards and the hands alternately clenched and opened. Their shoulders were often raised high, and then again lowered. They looked fiercely at each other from under their lowered and strongly wrinkled brows, and their protruded lips were

(247) firmly closed. They approached each other, with heads and necks stretched forwards, and pushed, scratched, and grasped at each other. This protrusion of the head and body seems a common gesture with the enraged; and I have noticed it with degraded English women whilst quarrelling violently in the streets. In such cases it may be presumed that neither party expects to receive a blow from the other.

A Bengalee employed in the Botanic Gardens was accused, in the presence of Mr. Scott, by the native overseer of having stolen a valuable plant. He listened silently and scornfully to the accusation; his attitude erect, chest expanded, mouth closed, lips protruding, eyes firmly set and penetrating. He then defiantly maintained his innocence, with upraised and clenched hands, his head being now pushed forwards, with the eyes widely open and eyebrows raised. Mr. Scott also watched two Mechis, in Sikhim, quarrelling about their share of payment. They soon got into a furious passion, and then their bodies became less erect, with their heads pushed forwards; they made grimaces at each other; their shoulders were raised; their arms rigidly bent inwards at the elbows, and their hands spasmodically closed, but not properly clenched. They continually approached and retreated from each other, and often raised their arms as if to strike, but their hands were open, and no blow was given. Mr. Scott made similar observations on the Lepchas whom he often saw quarrelling, and he noticed that they kept their arms rigid and almost parallel to their bodies, with the hands pushed somewhat backwards and partially closed, but not clenched.

Sneering, Defiance: Uncovering the canine tooth on one side.-- The expression which I wish here to consider

(248) differs but little from that already described, when the lips are retracted and the grinning teeth exposed. The difference consists solely in the upper lip being retracted in such a manner that the canine tooth on one side of the face alone is shown; the face itself being generally a little upturned and half averted from the person causing offence. The other signs of rage are not necessarily present. This expression may occasionally be observed in a person who sneers at or defies another, though there may be no real anger; as when any one is playfully accused of some fault, and answers, "I scorn the imputation." The expression is not a common one, but I have seen it exhibited with perfect distinctness by a lady who was being quizzed by another person. It was described by Parsons as long ago as 1746, with an engraving, showing the uncovered canine on one side.[14] Mr. Rejlander, without my having made any allusion to the subject, asked me whether I had ever noticed this expression, as he had been much struck by it. He has photographed for me (Plate IV. fig 1) a lady, who sometimes unintentionally displays the canine on one side, and who can do so voluntarily with unusual distinctness.

The expression of a half-playful sneer graduates into one of great ferocity when, together with a heavily frowning brow and fierce eye, the canine tooth is exposed. A Bengalee boy was accused before Mr. Scott of some misdeed. The delinquent did not dare to give vent to his wrath in words, but it was plainly shown on his countenance, sometimes by a defiant frown, and sometimes "by a thoroughly canine snarl." When this was exhibited, "the corner of the lip over the eye-tooth, which happened in this case to be large and projecting, was raised on the side of his accuser, a strong frown

Plate IV
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(249) being still retained on the brow." Sir C. Bell states[15] that the actor Cooke could express the most determined hate "when with the oblique cast of his eyes he drew up the outer part of the upper lip, and discovered a sharp angular tooth."

The uncovering of the canine tooth is the result of a double movement. The angle or corner of the mouth is drawn a little backwards, and at the same time a muscle which runs parallel to and near the nose draws up the outer part of the upper lip, and exposes the canine on this side of the face. The contraction of this muscle makes a distinct furrow on the cheek, and produces strong wrinkles under the eye, especially at its inner corner. The action is the same as that of a snarling dog; and a dog when pretending to fight often draws up the lip on one side alone, namely that facing his antagonist. Our word sneer is in fact the same as snarl, which was originally snar, the l "being merely an element implying continuance of action."[16]

I suspect that we see a trace of this same expression in what is called a derisive or sardonic smile. The lips are then kept joined or almost joined, but one corner of the mouth is retracted on the side towards the derided person; and this drawing back of the corner is part of a true sneer. Although some persons smile more on one side of their face than on the other, it is not easy to understand why in cases of derision the smile, if a real one, should so commonly be confined to one side. I have also on these occasions noticed a slight twitching of the muscle which draws up the outer part

(250) of the upper lip; and this movement, if fully carried out, would have uncovered the canine, and would have produced a true sneer.

Mr. Bulmer, an Australian missionary in a remote part of Gipps' Land, says, in answer to my query about the uncovering of the canine on one side, "I find that the natives in snarling at each other speak with the teeth closed, the upper lip drawn to one side, and a general angry expression of face; but they look direct at the person addressed." Three other observers in Australia, one in Abyssinia, and one in China, answer my query on this head in the affirmative; but as the expression is rare, and as they enter into no details, I am afraid of implicitly trusting them. It is, however, by no means improbable that this animal-like expression may be more common with savages than with civilized races. Mr. Geach is an observer who may be fully trusted, and he has observed it on one occasion in a Malay in the interior of Malacca. The Rev. S. O. Glenie answers, "We have observed this expression with the natives of Ceylon, but not often." Lastly, in North America, Dr. Rothrock has seen it with some wild Indians, and often in a tribe adjoining the Atnahs.

Although the upper lip is certainly sometimes raised on one side alone in sneering at or defying any one, I do not know that this is always the case, for the face is commonly half averted, and the expression is often momentary. The movement being confined to one side may not be an essential part of the expression, but may depend on the proper muscles being incapable of movement excepting on one side. I asked four persons to endeavour to act voluntarily in this manner; two could expose the canine only on the left side, one only on the right side, and the fourth on neither side. Nevertheless it is by no means certain that these same persons,

(251) if defying any one in earnest, would not unconsciously have uncovered their canine tooth on the side, whichever it might be, towards the offender. For we have seen that some persons cannot voluntarily make their eyebrows oblique, yet instantly act in this manner when affected by any real, although most trifling, cause of distress. The power of voluntarily uncovering the canine on one side of the face being thus often wholly lost, indicates that it is a rarely used and almost abortive action. It is indeed a surprising fact that man should possess the power, or should exhibit any tendency to its use; for Mr. Sutton has never noticed a snarling action in our nearest allies, namely, the monkeys in the Zoological Gardens, and he is positive that the baboons, though furnished with great canines, never act thus, but uncover all their teeth when feeling savage and ready for an attack. Whether the adult anthropomorphous apes, in the males of whom the canines are much larger than in the females, uncover them when prepared to fight, is not known.

The expression here considered, whether that of a playful sneer or ferocious snarl, is one of the most curious which occurs in man. It reveals his animal descent; for no one, even if rolling on the ground in a deadly grapple with an enemy, and attempting to bite him, would try to use his canine teeth more than his other teeth. We may readily believe from our affinity to the anthropomorphous apes that our male semi-human progenitors possessed great canine teeth, and men are now occasionally born having them of unusually large size, with interspaces in the opposite jaw for their reception.[17] We may further suspect, notwithstanding that we have no support from analogy,that our semi-human progenitors un-

(252)-covered their canine teeth when prepared for battle, as we still do when feeling ferocious, or when merely sneering at or defying some one, without any intention of making a real attack with our teeth.


  1. See some remarks to this effect by Mr. Bain, 'The Emotions and the Will,' 2nd edit. 1865, p. 127.
  2. Rengger, Naturgesch. der Saugethiere von Paraguay, 1830, s. 3.
  3. Sir C. Bell, 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 96. On the other hand, Dr. Burgess ('Physiology of Blushing,' 1839, p. 31) speaks of the reddening of a cicatrix in a negress as of the nature of a blush.
  4. Moreau and Gratiolet have discussed the colour of the face under the influence of intense passion: see the edit. of 1820 of Lavater, vol. iv. pp. 282 and 300; and Gratiolet, 'De la Physionomie,' p. 345.
  5. Sir C. Bell 'Anatomy of Expression,' pp. 91, 107) has fully discussed this subject. Moreau remarks (in the edit. of 1820 of 'La Physionomie, par G. Lavater,' vol. iv. p. 237), and quotes Portal in confirmation, that asthmatic patients acquire permanently expanded nostrils, owing to the habitual contraction of the elevatory muscles of the wings of the nose. The explanation by Dr. Piderit ('Mimik und Physiognomik,' s. 82) of the distension of the nostrils, namely, to allow free breathing whilst the mouth is closed and the teeth clenched, does not appear to be nearly so correct as that by Sir C. Bell, who attributes it to the sympathy (i. e. habitual co-action) of all the respiratory muscles. The nostrils of an angry man may be seen to become dilated, although his mouth is open.
  6. Mr. Wedgwood, 'On the Origin of Language,' 1866, p. 76. He also observes that the sound of hard breathing "is represented by the syllables puff, huff, whiff, whence a huff is a fit of ill-temper."
  7. Sir C. Bell ('Anatomy of Expression,' p. 95) has some excellent remarks on the expression of rage.
  8. 'De la Physionomie,' 1865, p. 346.
  9. Sir C. Bell, 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 177. Gratiolet (De la Phys. p. 369) says, "les dents se decouvrent, et imitent symboliquement l'action de dechirer et de mordre." If, instead of using the vague term symboliquement, Gratiolet had said that the action was a remnant of a habit acquired during primeval times when our semi-human progenitors fought together with their teeth, like gorillas and orangs at the present day, he would have been more intelligible. Dr. Piderit ('Mimik,' &c., s. 82) also speaks of the retraction of the upper lip during rage. In an engraving of one of Hogarth's wonderful pictures, passion is represented in the plainest manner by the open glaring eyes, frowning forehead, and exposed grinning teeth.
  10. 'Oliver Twist,' vol. iii. p. 245.
  11. 'The Spectator,' July 11, 1868, p. 810.
  12. 'Body and Mind,' 1870, pp. 51-53.
  13. Le Brun, in his well-known 'Conference sur l'Expression' ('La Physionomie, par Lavater,' edit. of 1820, vol. lx. p. 268), remarks that anger is expressed by the clenching of the fists. See, to the same effect, Huschke, 'Mimices et Physiognomices, Fragmentum Physiologicum,' 1824, p. 20. Also Sir C. Bell, 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 219.
  14. Transact. Philosoph. Soc., Appendix, 1746, p. 65.
  15. 'Anatomy of Expression,' p. 136. Sir C. Bell calls (p. 131) the muscles which uncover the canines the snarling muscles.
  16. Hensleigh Wedgwood, 'Dictionary of English Etymology,' 1865, vol. iii. pp. 240, 243.
  17. 'The Descent of Man,' 1871, vol. L p. 126.

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