Uncle Toms Cabin
Sentimental Types, Social Reform and Sentimentalism in Uncle Toms Cabin
Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beachier Stowe uses sentimentalism in order to captivate her nineteenth century audience. She does this in order to cultivate an understanding and sympathetic viewpoint with her chosen audience. Uncle Toms Cabin utilizes sentimentalism in order to form an attachment with slaves. Throughout the novel you take each hardship the slaves have endured as your own, in doing this she uses sympathy and love crutch to hold up her own Christian views and show slavery must end. Harriet Beachier Stowe’s sentimentality throughout Uncle Toms Cabin is shown within the sympathy displayed by St. Clare, a Christian who silently rejects slavery, and by the death of Eva, in order to evoke an emotional response from her readers, and show that Christian love can overpower the evil that has come from slavery. Stowe’s sentimentalism throughout Uncle Toms Cabin is driven by her desire to show that African Americans have the same soul as whites, and that if we are to let go of slavery we first must look at them as we do ourselves. Although St. Clare recognizes that slavery is inherently evil and unjust, he is not quite ready to admit he is one in the same with other masters. “…. when Christ should reign, and all the men should be happy and free. Sometimes I think all this sighing, and groaning, and stirring among the dry bones foretells what she used to tell me was coming. But who may abide the day of His appearing?” Here St. Clare shares what his mother once told him, that there will be a day when men are happy and free. St. Clare loves and cares for his slaves, however he is unable to connect to his slaves on a deeper level, because he does not see himself as one in the same with other slave masters.
Throughout the novel you see St. Clare turn into a new person one whose sympathy and love guides him to the right choice. However, this sympathy comes after a great loss. You begin to see St. Clare truly sympathetic towards the salves once Eva dies. Eva is seen as a Christ like martyr. Her death echoed in the minds of many characters, including Ophelia and Topsy. St. Clare mourned Eva, however he mourned himself in her death as well. St. Clare realizes that within Eva’s death lies the death of his past self. He does not want to die as a sinner and realizes that resisting silently is not good enough anymore. St. Clare poses the same characteristics in which he frowned upon “‘that kind of benevolence which consists in lying on a sofa and cursing the church and clergy for not being martyrs and confessors”. Although he dies before he can act upon his new understanding and bond with the enslaved, he is shown as someone who has made up for his sins, and whose soul is now safe. According to Stowe, this means that he can go on to heaven, which is shown when he joyously remarks he is “coming HOME, at last!”.
The underlying fear that accompanied St. Clare stemmed from the fear of judgment, which inspired his love for the slaves. In killing St. Clare, Stowe wanted to encourage a great feeling of sympathy toward the slaves. She did this with St. Clare to show a relatable character turning over a new leaf. Stowe attempts to connect her audience with the slaves in Uncle Toms Cabin by using family and Christian religion. Here she attempted to close the gap between the audience and the salves, and show that blacks were a valuable asset, and could contribute to America as well as Whites could. She uses Eva and Toms bond to evoke an emotional response from the readers. When Eva is introduced in this novel she is described as an innocent child, who in theory represents the massacre in which slavery contributed to. Eva is one of the many who gradually die due to slavery. Stowe paints Eva’s presence as an angelic innocent girl. Stowe says “form was the perfection of childish beauty. Her face was remarkable, less for its perfect beauty of feature than for a dreamy earnestness of expression, which made the idle start when they looked at her, and by which the dullest and most literal were pressed, without exactly knowing why”. Eva is painted as a pure Christian, someone who is too Christ-like for any Christian to reject. In this description, she is met to be the image of an angel, someone whose light is shining throughout the darkness of this novel. Stowe uses Eva in order to evoke an anger from her audience. Little Eva dies, leaving the audience to mourn her, as she is another fallen angel that slavery has killed. Eva, who was Toms only hope dies young, and after the death of St.
Clare, realizes he will not be free. Tom is a resilent man who overcomes each hardship that is thrown at him, because he follows gods words of “love thine enemies.”Tom is seen as less of a fallen angel, and as more of an image of Christ. Tom is highly compliant in all of his endeavors. He is subservient in the aspect that he stays loyal to not only his family but the white men that enslaved him. Tom is described in the novel as a simple-feminized man, sincere, and childlike. He is described as a slave who is “large, broad-chested, power fully-made man, of a fully glossy black, and a face whose truly African features were characterized by an expression of grave and steady good sense, united with much kindliness and benevolence’. Tom relies wholly on his faith to get him through the loss of his family and he ultimately sacrifices himself for his own faith. When Mr. Shelby is arranging the sale of Tom, he describes him as a passive fellow during his conversation with the slave trader Haley as follows; “Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow, he is certainly worth that sub anywhere, steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock”. Tom is essentially described as a loyal man, who will not cheat nor be unfaithful to his master, for he loves Christ and his religion too much. Stowe uses Tom as an ideal sentimentalist character, and hopes that in showing his love for humanity, the audience will sympathize and feel a bond.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ – Against Slavery and for Equality
Harriet Beecher Stowe, a African American author wrote the famous anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in 1852. It’s said to be known that she wrote more than 30 books in her time as an author but Uncle Tom’s Cabin was by far the most famous. She wrote this book after the Underground Railroad incident and in response to the very strict fugitive slave laws. The death of her 18-month-old son also heavily impacted her and the writing of this book. She said this tragedy helped her understand how mothers felt when their children were ripped away from them and sold. She eagerly wanted to see a change in slavery and change the way Americans viewed it, and that is exactly what she did.
Throughout Uncle Tom’s time as a slave, he had many slave owners. The first to be known were The Shelbys. The Shelbys thought high of their slaves, and treated them relatively well. As long as they obeyed Mr. Shelby and did their work, they were to be respected. Arthur Shelby, the owner of Uncle Tom, trusted and had so much respect for Tom that he would send him on trips to do business for him. And for Emily, Authur’s wife, she didn’t even really believe in slavery and was always trying to help the slaves. As you can imagine, they were definitely respectful of their slaves and on the nicer side of all slave owners. Since they thought high of their slaves, they always tried to keep them together and not sell them, in which they usually did. Well Mr. Shelby proved himself to be no better than any other slave owner when he sold Tom to Mr. Haley to pay off his own debt.
Mr. Haley was Tom’s next slave owner, and lets just say, Tom’s experience was very different under the rule of Mr. Haley than it was from The Shelbys. It wasn’t easy for Arthur to sell Tom to Mr. Haley, but he only did it because he thought Mr. Haley would treat Tom just well as he did. Well soon to find out, he was wrong. Haley wasn’t necessarily cruel to the slaves, but he wasn’t very generous to them either. He only did it for the business and keep them healthy so their prices stayed high. Just like how Mr. Shelby trusted Tom, Haley soon did the same. One day, Tom and a few other slaves went down to New Orleans and since Tom had Haleys trust, he was able to roam the boat freely. As he was roaming the boat, he met Ava, St. Claire’s daughter, and they became friends. After Tom saved Ava from drowning and her begging her dad to buy Tom, he finally did.
Augustine St. Clare was Tom’s next slave owner and he lived in New Orleans. Just like how Tom was close with Arthur’s son, George, Tom was also close with Ava, St. Claire’s daughter. St. Claire didnt believe in God and avoided to try and become a Christian because he feared that if he converted, he would start to believe in the abolition in slavery. With this being said, he knew slavery was wrong but he just didnt want to deal with the convictions, very similiar to The Shelbys. After 2 years of living with the Clares, Ava became sick and died. This lead to St. Claire setting Tom free but before he could do so, he got stabbed. So then his wife, Marie, sells Tom to a very cruel plantation owner, Simon Legree.
This book had a major impact on slavery and is known for ‘laying the groundwork for the Civil War’. I think Stowe did an overall really good on writing this book and getting her message across. She layed down the foundation of slavery and then went into specific details. I like how she included different types of slave owners all across the board from being very cruel to respecting and trusting their slaves. She helped me understand that all slaves were treated differently and all didn’t suffer. You could even say some slaves were happy, like how Tom was with the Shelbys. I also didn’t know that some slaves had so much freedom that they got to go on business trips for their slave owners, like Tom. I think Stowe did very well with the plot and set everything up nicely. For the most part, I was quite interested in the book and it kept my attention. While I enjoyed the book, I know it could’ve been better. I think she could have made it better by introducing Tom first in the beginning, and not open with Mr. Shelby and Haley. That sort of threw me off in the beginning but I quickly got back on track with it.
Public Outcry Or Just a Romance
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is an anti-slavery novel that was written in 1850. Its purpose was to reveal and expose the brutality of slavery, which in turn, had a significant impact on many people. It laid the groundwork for the Civil War as it increased tension between abolitionists and slave owners, and affected the nation as a whole when abolitionists hardened their protests and slavery became less and less popular. Uncle Tom’s Cabin received much criticism from many other novelists and critics. James Arthur Baldwin, an American novelist and critic wrote an essay titled “Everybody’s Protest Novel” in which he negatively criticized Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He argued that it was “a very bad novel” because it was too sentimental and wasn’t centralized enough on the struggle of slaves. However, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a great novel that relies on sentimentality to give an insight to the life and treatment of slaves, and to force readers to feel that slavery must be wrong rather than solely thinking it.
Stowe’s incorporation of sentimentality in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, allows the reader to see clearly the brutality with which slaves were treated and how they reacted to this treatment. This cruelty is depicted when Lucy’s child is taken away from her: “she sprung to the side of the boat, in hopes that, she might see her husband the woman returned to her old seat. The trader was sitting there, the child was gone!”. Mr. Haley quickly took the sleeping child when Lucy wasn’t looking, so that the child wouldn’t make a fuss and Lucy wouldn’t try to stop Haley from selling her son. Words cannot describe the look of horror on Lucy’s face as she processed what had happened, it was almost as though she had been shot directly through the heart. This Moreover, Harriet Beecher Stowe convinces readers of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that slavery is wrong, by addressing them directly and playing to their emotions. When the slave Eliza runs away from her master and mistress in order to save her son from being sold, Stowe tries to put the reader in her shoes: “If it were your Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going to be torn from you how fast could you walk?”
Depiction of Female Gender in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
This essay will be an exploration of how femininity is portrayed in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a controversial anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher-Stowe, which was first published in 1851. Femininity is portrayed as being hugely affected by the effect slavery had on the structure of a family, in all parts of society; slavery was a highly patriarchal system, affecting everything from maternal instincts to the moral awareness of women.
One of the reasons why Uncle Tom’s Cabin caused such controversy at the time it was first published is the way in which Beecher-Stowe places her female characters on a higher moral platform in the novel than her male characters. Although the major change towards socio-political rights for women occurred at the end of the nineteenth century, after the novel was written, the female characters are almost entirely portrayed as morally, religiously and socially aware. The white women in the novel who are portrayed as intellectually superior to their husbands are Mrs Bird and Legree’s mother, whilst Eliza epitomises these qualities for black women. In cases such as Cassy murdering her child and by doing so, breaking this pattern of women possessing a perfect moral code, Beecher-Stowe presents these actions as a product of the slavery system rather than an inherently inadequate moral code. Whilst it is important not to disregard characters such as Marie and Ophelia, as they are not perfect examples of good moral citizens, displaying qualities such as emotional cruelty and harbouring prejudice against others, Uncle Tom’s Cabin advocates a good sense of morality across the female gender, encouraging the abandonment of traditional stereotypes, particularly for black women.
The first example of the effect that slavery had on maternal instincts is seen in Cassy, a highly intelligent slave and mistress to Legree. In Cassy’s relaying of her tragic past to Uncle Tom, she focuses on her children being taken from her and sold into slavery, explaining how she became aware of her maternal instincts when her master would not help her son: “something inside of my head snapped”. The prospect of a life of slavery for her children made her maternal instincts far stronger than they might otherwise have been, causing Cassy to lose all self-control and moral awareness, driving her to consider murder by wielding a knife at her master; it is the point at which Cassy loses control over her children due to slavery that she also loses control of her natural, feminine instincts. To a modern readership, this representation of women would most likely be received as biased, as the author portrays Cassy to be illogical and emotionally frail due entirely to feminine feelings, rather than it being due in part to her situation. Beecher-Stowe portrays Cassy’s maternal instincts in what could be perceived as a negative light; she is shown as being so sentimental that her sympathetic qualities are more obvious to the reader than her intelligence or rationality. However, it is important to note here that Cassy later murders her son out of kindness, telling Uncle Tom that she gave him a fatal dose of opium shortly after he was born to save him from spending the rest of his life as a slave, which in her mind was on a par with death. Ironically, this clearly shows that Cassy has no ability for logical thought processes in the context of understanding the true welfare of her child, due to an excess of maternal instincts brought on by such an extreme situation.
Another pivotal female character in the novel is Eliza Harris, a slave who is a maid to Mrs Shelby; Beecher-Stowe uses Eliza as a vehicle to redefine traditional ideas surrounding black women, presenting them as humans with emotions rather than merely animals. The most obvious way in which she does this is to portray Eliza as having many of the same qualities as her mistress; she is taught to have a strong moral awareness and to be a devout Christian. However, this may be more due to her natural instincts rather than having the ideas imprinted on her by living in a Christian household. In a similar way to Cassy, Eliza’s situation has increased her maternal instincts, something which further allows the author to portray black women as intelligent, and able to resolve a situation. An example of this is when Mr Shelby threatens to sell Eliza’s son, and Eliza resolves the situation for herself by planning an escape for them both: “they have sold you, but your mother will save you yet!”. This shows that Eliza has the same level of competency as any aristocratic white woman, as she is able to plan and escape from the Shelby’s property without being seen, redefining the traditionally accepted role of a submissive black woman in slavery.
One particularly controversial and complex character is Ophelia St. Clare, Beecher-Stowe’s main tool for making her readership sympathise with the character’s prejudiced views and, as she did, reform their thoughts and begin to treat slaves as human beings rather than animals. It is possible to consider that Beecher-Stowe based the character of Ophelia on what she conceived her target readership to be: racially prejudiced people from the North who opposed slavery in the somewhat abstract sense that it was morally skewed, but felt such disgust when in the presence of black people that the aforementioned opposition could never progress any further than the abstract. Like Ophelia, this prejudice originated primarily from spending only minimal time in the presence of slaves, rather than it being based on fact or first-hand experience. It is also significant to note that Ophelia is an advocate for women’s ability to significantly improve their moral standards, suggesting a level of intelligence in women that traditional stereotypes did not compensate for; once Ophelia is put in the position of spending considerable lengths of time with Topsy, she develops a sense of duty to teach her Christian values, as one might toward a child. Eventually Ophelia becomes completely reformed and views Topsy as a human being; the death of Eva was the peripeteic moment at which she overcame the prejudices typical of Beecher-Stowe’s audience.
Mrs Bird is also a crucial character to the controversial nature of the novel, as she represents a woman with Christian morals willing to assist anyone regardless of their skin colour. She is a representation of the fact that whilst women were prized highly for their physical beauty over everything else, they had the often unacknowledged ability to take charge of a situation; Mrs Bird is described as being “the very picture of delight” at the same time as she was “ superintending the arrangements of the table”. Through this portrayal of women having multiple dimensions, Uncle Tom’s Cabin becomes a particularly progressive text that encourages drastic changes in the social stratification of the time. It is also important to note that Mrs Bird, aside from being portrayed as possessing a great amount of physical beauty, has intelligence that allows her to emotionally manipulate her husband, with a complete disregard of the stereotypical ideal that a woman should be submissive to men. This transforms Mrs Bird into a rather complex moral leader who is thrown “into a passion” by “anything in the shape of cruelty” towards another human being, black or white. The control that Mrs Bird has over her husband is a subtle one, done by emotional rather than physical means, and an example of this is when the discussion takes place between Mrs Bird and her husband with regards to the new law that states Southerners will no longer be allowed to offer assistance to slaves travelling through their land, stating that the law is “shameful, wicked” and “abominable”. This is a particularly revelatory moment in the novel as by contradicting the political opinions of her husband, Mrs Bird actually contradicts the US government in its entirety, as her husband holds the post of Senator. However, Mrs Bird’s morality is represented most effectively a little later in the chapter, when Harry and Eliza ask for a place to stay for the night before continuing their journey as runaways; she does not ask for the approval of her husband before allowing Harry and Eliza inside, instead encouraging them and making sure that “no reference was made on either side, to the preceding conversation”. This clearly demonstrated to Beecher-Stowe’s readership that women had the ability to employ an intelligent initiative and, whilst not completely disregarding their traditional roles as white middle-class women, have the ability to influence their husbands in the quest towards the Abolitionist movement. However, as this would have been such an extremely controversial idea for the time, Beecher-Stowe allowed some of the old stereotypes for female behaviour to remain; stating that whilst Mrs Bird was firm in her own opinions, “her husband and children were her entire world”. Most importantly, she explains to her female readership that the best way in which a woman can hope to influence her husband is by subtle means: “…she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion than by command or by argument”. This also reinforces the argument that women possessed a level of intelligence significant enough to rival men, as Mrs Bird possessed the ability to remain calm and rational whilst articulating a persuasive argument.
White women are portrayed as having a wide-reaching influence in the novel, not just within the confines of their own family unit but within the slave community as well; in the absence of a moral female figure in a home, the moral well-being of the men in the home is affected. An example of this is the description of the plantation kept by Legree, a man who treated his slaves cruelly and with no respect; Beecher-Stowe described the establishment as having “that peculiar sickening, unwholesome smell, compounded of mingled damp, dirt and decay”, and states that Legree’s dogs “had encamped themselves among them, to suit their own taste and convenience”. The female presence on the plantation is limited only to a slave woman who is as morally and physically unkempt as Legree himself, resulting in a lack of compassion and Christian values. By using Legree as an example of what can happen without the presence of a pious woman, Beecher-Stowe creates an awareness in her readership that squalor and cruelty are counterparts to a lack of female influence.
To conclude, the revolutionary representation of the female gender in Uncle Tom’s Cabin as having high levels of intelligence, Christian values and moral reasoning made it one of the most controversial books written. By presenting parallels between the repression of black slaves and women, Beecher-Stowe places doubt in the minds of the audience over the moral countenance of the men in charge of the patriarchal slavery system. Even though women are used primarily to advocate a change in the traditionally accepted roles of women, the roles of men are also questioned and women’s inferiority is placed under scrutiny; women were having the greatest effect on the men in positions of power, yet societal norms stated that they should remain submissive to men. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a novel in which the representation of the female characters forms a strong example of early Feminist ideas, allowing women to adopt gradually more power over political matters in the future and, in turn, providing fuel for the Abolitionist movement.
Topsy’s Growing Character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The Evolution of Topsy
They say teach a child to fish and he will never go hungry. What if you teach a child self deprecation? Will they then grow to become a helpful human being? In the case of Topsy from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the answer to this question is no. Having been labeled as the wicked black child, her character comes off as strange and rather uncivilized. Though she may seem like a troubled child, Harriet Beecher Stowe shows us that she has the ability of being more than just a “peculiar black child”. Stowe showcases Topsy’s growing character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin through the use of conventional imagery, the apparent consequences of severe slavery, and her primary encounter with kindness.
In the time which Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about, the looks of a Negro defined the type of background you had. The darker you were or the more raggedy you looked the more unintelligent and incapable you seemed. Therefore it was not surprising when we were introduced to the character of Topsy. Stowe says that, “She was one of the blackest of her race; and her round shining eyes, glittering as glass beads, moved with quick and restless glances over everything in the room… Her woolly hair was braided in sundry little tails, which stuck out in every direction (352).” Though she did not know anything about her character, Miss Ophelia begins to judge her after she sees her and asks “Augustine, what in the world have you brought that thing here for (352)?” She refers to Topsy as a “thing” not considering that she is a living child. Harriet Beecher Stowe expands a major message in the book which is the difference between slave and owner and even white and black folk.
As we notice her appearance, we are then introduced to the realities of cruel slavery that Topsy underwent. She is forced to act a certain way because she is so accustomed to being mistreated and beaten. St. Claire, the man who brought her into the house, says “Why, the fact is, this concern belonged to a couple of drunken creatures that keep a low restaurant that I have to pass by every day, and I was tired of hearing her screaming, and them beating and swearing at her (354).” She was being beaten every day and she believes that she is a wicked child because of it. Topsy admits to Miss Ophelia, “Laws, Missis, there’s heaps of ’em. Speculators buys ’em up cheap, when they’s little, and gets ’em raised for market (356).” The author shows us that kids so young were conditioned to believe that children are meant to be “raised for the market.” This can impact the way they think about themselves and even their creator. Topsy knows how to give all the right answers but she does not even know that there is a God who exists who made her.
Although she may seem like a degenerate, the readers also view a side of Topsy that could have been this sweet kind and generous young girl. For just a glimpse, Topsy experiences true friendship and kindness with Eva the Daughter of St. Claire. After Topsy is accused of stealing, Eva tells her, “Poor Topsy, why need you steal? You’re going to be taken good care of now. I’m sure I’d rather give you anything of mine, than have you steal it (362).” At this moment, the author writes, “It was the first word of kindness the child had ever heard in her life; and the sweet tone and manner struck strangely on the wild, rude heart, and a sparkle of something like a tear shone in the keen, round, glittering eye…(362).” Even though Topsy did not believe what Eva said afterward, she at least for a second appreciated a non abusive statement from someone. Harriet Beecher Stowe is conveying a message of equality and hope through Topsy’s emotion and Eva’s reaction in that situation.
Her character may have been small, but we can definitely recognize that Topsy was important to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s main message about faith, equality, and humanity. She was a character who played an eminent role in teaching readers of Uncle Tom’s Cabin about the realities of oppression. By using stereotypical imagery, apparent penalties of severe slavery, and her primary encounter with kindness Harriet Beecher Stowe showcases Topsy’s character growth vividly.
Major Tones of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Novel
Style Analysis: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
In the excerpt from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, sanguine and loving tones express the authors underlying critical message in the book. He highlights the optimistic viewpoint of the community minded characters during grueling situations through the use of Christianity and love for Christ. In keeping with the theme of religion, he also defines heroism amongst individuals within the novel.
The diction which the author uses emphasizes the sanguine tone as he states the hopeful nature the people have when engaging with Christ. The well endowed “pastor” was “satisfied” by the “sobbing” reaction from the crowd who received the speech he had “succeeded in giving”. The excerpt begins with a pastor giving a motivational speech to a congregation of people; this is reflective of the main character Tom’s gospel spreading life. The audience that is sobbing explains the level of conviction that the people had after the speech. Consequently, the group of people “prayed” and found an everlasting “rest” in the Lord to whom many of them become “devout” followers of even in the “shadows of slavery”. Prayer seals their void to trust someone unquestionably and gives them the ability to love them unconditionally. Throughout the entirety of the book though the trials seem hard, they are belittled by the constant hope for better, and the love for others.
The author’s detail gives a vividly defined explanation of the downfalls in human life and the faith needed to stay somewhat enthusiastic about life. The “agitated” and “tumultuous” feelings of the missionaries is due to “a system…which whirls families”. The author is touching base on a system which is discriminatory and raises problems to a certain group of people like he does majorly in the entire book. In the Canadian customs “deeds of heroism” are categorized highly however one young man was “suffering shameful stripes for his heroism” and did not gain much from their “acquaintanceship and affection”. Contrasting with the message of love over all, the narrator presents an example where heroism and caring about others did not prevail. The author brings an importance to knowing that loving Christ overall is the main key to getting over obstacles because human heroes will not always thrive.
By using the third person omniscient point of view, the author gives us a clear picture of the traits of the characters in the book by building our personal relationship with them and conveying how they encounter truths throughout the book. We are reintroduced to characters when the narrator says “to return to our friends, whom we left wiping their eyes” to whom “such a change has passed over” and metaphorically “She seemed to sink”. The author portrays Cassy as someone who we know personally by connecting us to the hardships that she faces. As Cassy’s role is seen throughout the end of this passage the author is hoping for the readers get to know of her harsh life story including the fact that she lost a child. The narrator explains that “her love seemed to flow more naturally to the little Eliza” and he shows that “Eliza’s steady and consistent piety” is the reason Cassy became a “devout and tender Christian”. This situation shows the power of perseverance in struggle and the narrator is portraying influence that others have during stiff times.
The organization of the passage moves from inspiring, to explanatory, and finally to hopeful. In the beginning, the author introduces his readers to a pastor who is nervous to speak. The great accomplishment of being able to get his point across effectively proves to be inspiring to the audience. The mood of the quite room makes it even more encouraging when the responses to his speech are sobs of motivation. The fact that there are problems before being able to come together and grow stronger makes for an inspiring beginning. In the middle, the narrator moves onto explaining different occurrences that have to do with missionaries and heroism. His mentioning of Canadian fugitives and their part in the lives of missionaries leaves readers feeling knowledgeable about the criteria for heroes, and views taken by missionaries and Canadian fugitives. In the end, the passage concludes with a hopeful future for Cassy. Though she has lost her child, the love for the Lord begins to prevail because of Eliza’s condemning actions and she becomes a good Christian. Both the sanguine and loving tones are highlighted in the organization of the passage.
Although the passage seems small in comparison to the entire book, it introduces factors that Stowe is trying to convey through the whole work such as religion, love, and heroism. The hopeful tone can be seen as one that is constant in the protagonist throughout the book. The reader is able to come to a basis of what Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a whole is communicating through this excerpt.
Heroism in Uncle Tom’s Cabin Novel
The Hero of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written with parallelism and contrasts especially within the characters of the book. Religion plays a big role in the personalities of the characters along with the location from where they were raised. For example Miss Ophelia and Legree’s mother served as two females from the north who were against slavery. Mr. Shelby and St. Clare who lived in the south knew slavery was unjust but continued to practice it because of the status quo and lack of ambitions to make a difference. Eva and Legree on the other hand are incomparable in their personality.The young child is a devout Christian however Legree would do anything to abolish all Christianity. Uncle Tom akin to Eva was the protagonist of the story as well as the hero of the novel. His actions left a lasting effect on the readers and portrayed symbolism.
Uncle Tom showed heroism in his lasting trust in god. He believed if he prayed to god, he would be sent to heaven. Uncle Tom thought if you repent you could still be sent to heaven despite the sins someone had done in their past. Uncle Tom persuaded many characters to have faith in god and pray. An important turning point within the novel was when Tom sacrificed his life to avoid breaking his morals. He chose to be beaten to death instead of revealing the hiding place of two fugitives. Uncle Tom held christ-like piety and forgiveness to those who sinned.
Uncle Tom is known as a hero for the actions he affected in the future from his death. George Shelby, who witnessed his death, freed all his slaves because of his reaction to what slavery caused. He never wanted to see another slave suffer as Uncle Tom did. Uncle Tom’s Cabin symbolized freedom for the slaves in the Shelby plantation. His death related back to Tom’s religion. Uncle Tom’s dedication to following his morals killed him but allowed him to gain what he wanted, freedom for slaves. Although, the law wasn’t eradicated, the action was a start to the abolitionist movement.
Uncle Tom’s help for others also gave him the role as a hero. Uncle Tom not only assisted the remaining slaves within the Shelby plantation after his death but his former slaves such as Eliza and Harry. He urged them to escape for Canada to obtain freedom. Uncle Tom helped Cassy and Emmeline flee the plantation for freedom as well. Cassy was stopped by Uncle Tom from killing Legree because Uncle Tom didn’t want Cassy to be punished when she died. He wanted everyone to go to heaven if possible. As much as a loathsome, pitiful plantation the Legree’s was, Tom helped the poor slaves.When picking cotton, Tom would add some of his picked cotton to other baskets and do extra work to fill his to the certain amount required. Uncle Tom did everything he could to make his fellow workmates lives better; sacrificing his life to be dreadful.
The hero of Uncle Tom’s Cabin can vary due to opinion, however I believe Tom should be labeled as the main hero of the story. His devotion to Christianity expressed his heroic qualities. Tom’s commitment to religion made him sacrifice his life portraying him as a Christian matryr. Uncle Tom’s help for others gained him the role as a hero of the novel also. The noble slave’s actions are recognized and remembered by the Shelby plantation. Uncle Tom’s belief in god was the first step to an end to slavery making him worthy to be a hero for many.
The Portrayal of Methodism and its Role in the Novel
While lying on her death bed, in Chapter 26 of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, little Eva says to the servants in her house who have gathered around her, “You must remember that each one of you can become angels” (418). In this chapter and the one before it, Eva has actively worked to make the people surrounding her into “angels,” taken here to mean one who is saved by God. In chapters 33 and 34 of Stowe’s book, Tom similarly works, though more quietly, to turn the other slaves at Simon Legree’s plantation into “angels.” Both of these scenes, and particularly the evangelical characters within them, reveal Stowe’s Methodist theology, a theology that rejects the predestination of earlier American Christianity. In Stowe’s theology “each one” of the people can be saved; God’s love is universal. Original sin still exists, but now an individual is given control to escape this sin by embracing God’s love. At the heart of the theology and the resultant morality that Tom and Eva evince, is a warm, knowable God, who is knowable through love, and the heart.
Eva is the most explicit in explaining the dynamic between God and his people. She explains this by asking Topsy, “don’t you know that Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me” (412). Earlier in the book Tom had asked a similar question to a downtrodden woman on the boat with him: “Han’t nobody never telled ye how the Lord Jesus loved ye, and died for you?” (324). God offers everyone this love, but it can only be claimed by loving God in return. Eva pleads with the people around her that they should, “pray every day,” (419) so that they can find God as she has.
The way that Tom and Eva bring others to see this caring God is by acting in the same fashion as God?by loving the people around them in the same way that Jesus did. When Eva draws all of the house servants together, in an effort to convince them all to become “angels,” the first thing that she says is, “I sent for you all, my dear friends, because I love you. I love you all” (418). Like Jesus, Eva goes beyond just telling them of love, she acts upon this love by giving each servant a lock of her hair. In this act she symbolically gives of herself (her hair). While Tom is less explicit in his vocalization of love, he is somewhat more apparent than Eva in his acting out of this love. When Tom and the other slaves are in Legree’s fields, Tom, “at the risk of all that he might suffer, [came] forward again, and put all the cotton in his sack into the woman’s” (503). By giving up his own cotton Tom shows a willingness to suffer at the end of the day, when the cotton is weighed, so that the woman, Emmeline, does not have to. Tom’s thoughtless willingness to suffer so that others do not have to, makes clear the similarity between the love that Tom and Eva give, and the love that God, through Jesus, gives.
When Tom and Eva give in this way, they inspire the people around them to also give. For the first few months in the St. Clare household Topsy does little other than turn everything into her own?she takes. Miss Ophelia tells of how Topsy stole her “bonnet-trimming, and cut it all to pieces to make dolls’ jackets!” (407). But then Eva tells Topsy something that Topsy has never heard before, “O, Topsy, poor child, I love you” (409). Topsy begins to cry, and in the next few days, she immediately shows a desire to give back to Eva. A few days later Topsy brings flowers for Eva from the garden, and Eva tells her mother, “You see, mamma, I knew poor Topsy wanted to do something for me” (414). It seems that once one sees that the world can be a loving place, people like Topsy can identify a loving force behind that world. Even by watching Eva deal with Topsy, Miss Ophelia tells Topsy that, “I’ve learnt something of the love of Christ from her” (432).
This loving force is thus transformative. Eva tells Topsy that if Topsy is able to love God, “He will help you to be good” (410). Before Eva causes this change in Topsy, Topsy, when asked why she behaves so badly, says, “Spects it’s my wicked heart” (408). When her behavior begins to improve after Eva reveals love to her, it is certain that her heart has been changed too. As in Calvinist theology, God’s grace transforms individuals from the inside out, but in Methodist theology, the individual can seek out God by learning how to love.
These acts of love become the central element of the Methodist theology. Many of the means that dominated earlier theology are shown to be far less important than these acts of the heart. Miss Opelia attempts to convert Topsy by teaching her from the Bible; she says, “I’ve taught and taught; I’ve talked till I’m tired” (407). But as St. Clare says a few moments later, “your Gospel is not strong enough to save one heathen child” (408). The Bible is certainly not rejected as a source of truth?Tom takes great assurance from the Bible?but Gospel, and training in the Gospel is not truly helpful in saving people. The clergy is not even mentioned in these chapters of conversion. It is people like Eva and Tom, who are schooled in the way of the heart, who are able to help people reach God.
Eva, the one who is able to show others such love, first learned about love in her own family. While her mother is not the nurturing mother that could be hoped for, her father fills the caring role. St. Clare loves Eva so much that he is sent into lifeless despondency when Eva dies. Cassy, similarly, tells Tom how she learned of love in her own childhood with a mother an father who nurtured her and allowed her to “play hide-and-go-seek, under the orange-trees, with my brothers and sisters” (516). In these days, Cassy remembers that she “used to love God and prayer” (522). The love of the family is the essential source of love in Stowe’s theology. When St. Clare finally gains his peace with God, it is accompanied by an image of his caring mother before him (456).
But just as convincing as these examples of a family giving someone access to love, are those examples where a lack of family deprives someone of an understanding of love. Topsy’s inability to love stems from her belief that, “can’t nobody love niggers.” Moments later, Eva implies that this belief makes sense given that Topsy never had “any father, or mother, or friends” (409). While Cassy had understood love at a time in the past, she lost it when she lost her family. It is the moment when her children are sold that she first, “cursed God and man” (519). She loses her love of God and humanity because she is stripped of the very source of this love. Cassy’s situation brings to light the important point that just as an individual can gain grace in God’s eyes, so can he or she lose it. But the situation emphasizes the larger point that Cassy’s source of love was her family.
Much of Stowe’s novel is seen as a fierce strike at slavery, but Stowe is strongest in condemning slavery because of its force in breaking up families. Cassy’s story of the breakup of her family is one of the most vividly told. She tells of how her master would taunt her every day by saying, “‘if you don’t behave reasonably, I’ll sell both the children, where you shall never see them again’” (518). We see Stowe narrating these meta-narratives so as to evoke sympathy in the reader for the characters who have been cruelly pulled away from both their families, and their source of religious faith.
Stowe’s book was written soon after the death of her own child, and this traumatic experience was certainly one of the motivations behind the writing of the book. Through the death of her own child, it is probable that Stowe saw the pernicious effects of the breakup of a family, and gained sympathy for the plights of innumerable slaves. In her novel Stowe works to engender that same sense of sympathy in the reader.
Exploring the Gender Roles in the Novel
In considering how Stowe represents gender, it must be foregrounded that men and women inhabited different sectors within nineteenth century American society. Males belonged almost exclusively to a public world of work, whilst females were restricted to a private sphere within the home. Different characteristics that were stereotypically attached to gender- compassion and domesticity in women, and control and chaotic violence in men- can thus be accountable to the different spheres they belonged to. Additionally, we cannot examine how Stowe approaches gender as a singular concept; both masculinity and femininity are challenged through their synthesis with other concepts such as religion and slavery. A person’s gender is thus labelled according to which antithetical sphere their characteristics align most accurately to. Therefore, Stowe does not approach gender biologically, but instead socially in accordance with what is expected of both men and women within society.
Through assumptions within American society of both male and female attributes, Uncle Tom can be seen as “feminine” through not completely fulfilling the expectations of American masculinity. Throughout Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly, Tom inhabits the world of slavery where the owners are predominantly incapable of religion. Characterisation of behaviour is thus based mainly on gender. Therefore, when Tom displays Christian attributes such as compassion and unconditional love, he can only be described as “feminine” through the source of these emotions being typically female. This expectation of gender is not only contextual, but is constructed within the novel: nurture and guidance stems naturally from female characters such as Eva and Rachel Halliday, whilst little but chaos and harm are caused by the patriarchal influence of Legree and Mr Shelby. Therefore, to examine the construction of gender through Christianity, Tom’s interaction with a male figure must be considered. Despite Legree being possibly the most cruel slave owner, Tom vows that: ““if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ‘em freely, as the Lord gave his for me.” Whilst a feminine submission seems apparent through ‘[giving]’ physical strength to another, this act is elevated in presenting Tom through a religious context. In sacrificing himself for the sake of believing all souls are ‘precious’ despite their sinning, it aligns him with Jesus; his behaviour is therefore not submissive specifically to Legree but heroic for the sake of humanity. Through being forced to submit to life as a slave, it can be argued that Tom has no choice but to exhibit Christian values; either he seeks a higher salvation through showing humanity where Legree is lacking, or submits to a hatred that leaves him damned spiritually as well as physically. Whilst the emotion of compassion can be characterised as female, his sacrifice is physical and so remains predominantly masculine. This suggests a pain and toil that only men would encounter through work and women would not through residing in the home. Therefore, the construction of Tom’s gender is dependent not only upon his personal identity and actions, but the faith of others. Those who remain intrinsically faithless can only attribute his kindness to femininity through a lack of knowledge on Christian values.
Through Stowe’s interaction with wider issues of slavery, the female role is not centred on seeking relationships. Without this pre-occupation of romance and lack of objectification, the presentation of gender within the novel is more flexible. However, women can only show masculine traits through a perversion of their own femininity. Within The Feminization of American Culture, Douglas sees a “continuation of male hegemony in different guises”. Previously, work and home were contained in separate masculine and feminine spheres yet this is complicated through introducing race. Dinah is female in sex yet is unorganised and works without “logic and reason” (Stowe, p.620), characteristics of chaos that are typically representative of masculinity. The kitchen can also act as symbolic of the slave economy, of which Dinah attempts to organise through what: “she called “clarin’ up times,” […] and make the ordinary confusion seven-fold more confounded.” (Stowe, p.315) In attempting to rectify this process of domesticity and instead only producing it as ‘more confounded’, it suggests that the female sphere also needs reform before approaching the faults within the male sphere. However, the focus remains- as it does in slavery- on the results. St Clare cares only for the fact that Dinah “gets you a capital dinner” (Stowe, p.316); this almost identifies Dinah as a slave trader through her preference of chaotic method yet effective results, as slavery similarly produces. Dinah herself, as a purchase, also brings the economic in to the domestic. The expectation of American women was to influence men through being a “wise and appropriate influence” at home. Through placing a lower class of slaves instead in the home, it renders the expectations of the American wife impossible to carry out. Stowe thus inverts gender through presenting a female character that exists within a female world, yet is this ‘continuation of male hegemony’ being essentially a male-invested economic purchase. Yet it must also be questioned whether this lack of femininity is caused by patriarchal influence or an initial lack of femininity in Dinah; whilst she economically belongs to St Clare, she intrinsically lacks a feminine nature embodied by domesticity and organisation.
Stowe’s narration works not only to describe the events, but becomes a self-fashioned “penetrating” voice in itself. Gender roles are therefore inverted through Stowe assuming a voice that can reach all through publication. She also transcends her sphere through topic; Stowe breaches typically masculine topics of slave auctions and violence beyond the household. Once her character’s issues have been resolved as far as possible, she uses the ‘Concluding remarks’ to continue these issues to reality: “But, she asks any person, who knows the world, are such characters common, anywhere?” (Stowe, p.621) Instead of using a first person, she self-consciously places herself within the third, highlighting her gender’s ability to speak publicly where women were usually mute. The reader is also called upon to consider the type of person they are. She seeks for answers only in a specific group, those that ‘[know] the world’, thus suggesting a challenge to look inward on oneself after a novel of examining others. Stowe almost acts like a conscience, re-iterated by Jane P. Tomkins, of whom suggests “the novel functions both as a means of describing the social world and as a means of changing it.” In considering whether characters of “nobility, generosity, and humanity” (Stowe, p.621) are common within humanity, it once again encourages readers to consider themselves. This suggests an intended readership of those who also display “feminine” characteristics; through this, the slaves Stowe gives a voice to can be approached with sympathy. However, it can be argued that her description of the ‘social world’ is purposefully inaccurate. Through the coincidences of two reunions and a future happiness for previous slaves, Stowe presents an idealistic future that can only be achieved through human development in to these said characters. Therefore, a sense of realism is twisted to present possibility beyond reality. To encourage action through words almost suggests Stowe’s narrative as a speech. She thus embodies what would have been recognised as patriarchal control, yet she successfully inverts it through her female voice; she presents the possibility that matriarchy could incur change also.
Despite examining how it is repeatedly constructed and inverted, gender becomes irrelevant within Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Whilst restrictions of gender could dictate the action physically taken against slavery, such as Mrs Shelby being powerless to prevent the sale of Tom, gender becomes irrelevant when considering the morality of the individual. Throughout the novel, Stowe questions how much human progress has been made if men are still enslaved. It is therefore standards of morality that needed to evolve, and this remains independent from which gender predominantly rules society; being female did not automatically denote care and domesticity, as Marie St Clare shows. It is therefore not a solution to displace patriarchy with matriarchy if human nature and morality is arbitrary and not specific to gender.
Beecher Stowe, H., Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986)
Brown, G., Domestic Individualism (University of California Press, Oxford: 1992)
Douglas, A. ‘Introduction’ in Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986)
Tompkins, J. P., ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Literary History’ in Uncle Tom’s Cabin ed. by Elizabeth Ammons (Norton & Company: London, 1994)
Yellin, J. ‘Doing it Herself: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Woman’s Role in the Slavery Crisis’ in New Essays on Uncle Tom’s Cabin ed. by Eric J. Sundquist (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1986)
 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986) p.583 (All further references are to this edition and will be given parenthetically.)  Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture in Domestic Individualism, Gillian Brown (University of California Press, Oxford: 1992) p.18  Jean Fagan Yellin, ‘Doing it Herself: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Woman’s Role in the Slavery Crisis’ in New Essays on Uncle Tom’s Cabin ed. by Eric J. Sundquist (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1986) p.88  Ann Douglas, ‘Introduction’ in Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986) p.15  Jane P. Tompkins, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Literary History’ in Uncle Tom’s Cabin ed. by Elizabeth Ammons (Norton & Company: London, 1994)
Dominant Ideology in the United States
Dominant ideology is the prevalent culture, values, traditions, beliefs, practices, and such in a particular group. Within the structure of society, dominant ideology stands for what majority of the people who make up society uphold as their philosophies, values, beliefs, thoughts, principles, etc. (Dominant Ideology Thesis, 1998) Dominant ideology represents what the people stand for. Moreover, it is not only represented in the observable actions, behavior, and way of thinking of people within a group or society, but is also evident in the material or tangible culture existing within their societal circle.
For instance, the dominant ideology of society may be interpreted and expressed through literature, music, movies, theater, television programs, sport events, and such. The dominant ideology of the United States leans toward the concept of humanism, such that the nation upholds rationality, morality, and the condition of human life as basis for philosophies, values, or belief systems. (Edwords, 1989) Specifically, the dominant ideology of the United States endorses democracy and liberalism, as well as corporate power and capitalism (Bayes, 2005).
Although democracy and liberalism when compared with corporate power and capitalism may be conflicting in several aspects, it still proves to establish what the United States stands for as a nation. The argument of democracy and liberalism as a dominant ideology is the inability of the nation to accomplish it fully (Baves, 2005). Still, inequality exists, and so does prejudice, bias, unfairness and such. However, it does not mean that the non-accomplishment of the dominant ideology makes it invalid for such label.
The nation might uphold the values and beliefs of democracy and liberalism, and corporate power and capitalism, at the same time while failing to accomplish what it means for the nation. The dominant ideologies aforementioned in previous discussions are represented in American literature, music, movies, theater, television programs, and even sports events. The theme of these products of culture always contains hints of democracy, liberalism, corporate power, and capitalism. For instance, the major themes of American literature and theater are the strong advocacy for democracy and liberalism.
“The Crucible” and “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and such plays and novels are American classic literature that criticizes repression, injustice, and discrimination. Tales of the history of American Indians are also strong forces that build upon the advocacy of American literature and theater for democracy and liberalism. (Major Themes in American Literature, 2008) Themes of American music, movies, and television programs represent liberalism, and in some aspects, corporate power and capitalism.
Liberalism is applied in American music, movies, and television programs because themes or plots could be anything. American artists are more open-minded when it comes to art and expression in properties of media such as music, movies, and television that themes go a long way from conservatism, to rationalism, humanism, to classical, historical, and such. Themes always vary according to artistic interest and inclinations that sets the liberalism as a dominant ideology.
Exhibiting corporate power and capitalism may be observed from the setting of movies, such that most movies, music, and television shows represent in one way or another, the concept of the American dream – which when analyzed deeply represents utopia which symbolizes power and perfection. Sports events also represent the dominant ideology of corporate power and capitalism. Famous American sports such as basketball, American football, and baseball, represent the dominant ideologies of the country. Sports events are capitalistic in nature, such that almost every aspect of it boils down to business.
Americans patronize sporting events, as it is highly advertised to the public. Majority of Americans attend these sporting events, then comes the opportunity for business institutions to make profit from it, by selling tickets, food, props, and such. I believe it is capitalistic in nature because of the strong business context of sporting events. References Bayes, J. (2005). “Democratic Dreams in the United States in the Age of Empire: A Feminist Perspective from the North” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Retrieved October 15, 2008, from All Academic Incorporated. Website: http://www. allacademic. com/meta/p70048_index. html Dominant Ideology Thesis. (1998). Retrieved October 15, 2008, from Highbeam Research, Inc. Website: http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1O88-dominantideologythesis. html Edwords, F. (1989). What is Humanism? Retrieved October 15, 2008, from the American Humanist Association. Website: http://www. jcn. com/humanism. html Major Themes in American Literature. (2008). Retrieved October 15, 2008, from JHSSAAC. Website: http://school. jhssac. org/Faculty/HrgaI/documents/Summaryofthe5Themes. pdf