Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Lions and tigers and bears oh my! In Edward Hicks mind though, this ‘oh my’ turns into an ‘all mine’, which can especially be seen in his work of Peaceable Kingdom. This masterpiece highlights the unity between man and beast when we are younger which can clearly be seen, but hiding beneath this pleasant idea is the reality of what happens to our peacefulness with nature, as we grow older. In the background colonists are trying to change the native people into what the colonists think they should be. Often times these indigenous tribes were referred to as animals, but clearly these foreigners are trying to change them because they know of no other way. In the front of the painting we can see three very young children playing with the mightiest beasts known to man kind, and of course the beasts are taking in these children because like the children themselves they are in unity with one another as nature should be. The unity of young children with animals is truly remarkable, but sadly this is lost somewhere along the way, because there is no unity between elders and ‘animals.’ While this painting may seem to be happy and show unity between all aspects of life, truly it shows the lack of innocence we all face as we get older. This hidden theme of innocence is also found in Huckleberry Finn as most old ‘wise’ men see Jim and others of his color as animals and treat them intolerably. Huck on the other hand sees everyone as a person in the end and even risks his own soul for his African American counterpart. Obviously this relates to this painting in many ways.


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