Did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin Open up the Realities of Slavery to the Entire World?
The problem of slavery is widely discussed social issue and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is probably one of the best novels where this topic is most vividly pictured. Harriet Beecher Stowe was able to brilliantly portray the lives of people that were treated as objects, which their owners can sell or exchange.
Every scene of the book appeals to the reader’s better self pointing out that slavery is hellish and there is no place for it in the civilized society. While on this subject, the novel is about the “destructive power of slavery and the ability of Christian love to overcome it” (Spark Publishers, 2002). The author emphasizes that even in the most favorable living conditions slaves suffer. For instance, needy for money though quite a good owner, Shelby has to sell Uncle Tom thereby wrecks his family (Stowe, 1852).
At that time popular belief claimed that owners serve the interests of slaves comparing them to children who need constant mentorship and supervision. Stowe in her book refutes this idea stressing that the best for a slave is to win freedom. Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a great influence on the culture and politics of the time. Thus, its publication gave a new impetus to the abolitionist movement and changed public opinion. When Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War he said, “So this is the little lady who started this Great War” (Stowe, 1911). What is more, according to historian Will Kaufman this novel “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War” (Kaufman, 2006).
Although Uncle Tom’s Cabin brilliantly describes the reality of slavery, it implanted into the public consciousness a number of stereotypes, above all, a powerful image of Negro endurance and pious humility. The characters of Beecher Stowe’s novel became like-kind canon of depicting African Americans in literature.
Taking everything into account, it is worthy to mention that Uncle Tom’s Cabin provoked heated discussions, by that helped public to see the problem of slavery in a new life.
Kaufman, W. (2006). The Civil War in American Culture. Edinburgh University Press, 18.
Spark Publishers. (2002). Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 19.
Stowe, H. B. (1852). Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly.Boston. John P. Jewett & Co.
Stowe, C. E. (1911). Harriet Beecher Stowe: The Story of Her Life, 203.
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