Critical Analysis: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a classic novel that was said to have provoked the American Civil War. By discussing the issue of slavery and showing the cruel aspects of it Harriet Beecher Stowe motivated people to take sides over the issue.

The main focus of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is to show that African American’s have souls and feelings just like other humans. In her time it was common for white plantation owners and slave holders to view black people as cattle or a degraded species of humans. Slave auctioneers and sellers separated mothers and children on the idea that they couldn’t really feel the loss, at least not like white people.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s goal in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is to show African American’s as people. Her basic argument is that black’s suffer just as much as whites, and therefore it is just as wrong to mistreat them. Throughout the book Stowe approaches the idea of slavery from an unwavering Christian viewpoint. This is not surprising considering that she had a very religious family, with her father being a famous minister.

The single most important character in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is Uncle Tom himself. Uncle Tom is a middle aged black man who is very honest and intelligent. Uncle Tom’s master, Mr. Shelby, entrusts him with many of the dealings of his house, even trusting him to take large sums of money of business trips for his master. For Uncle Tom this could be a prime opportunity to escape. However, Uncle Tom always returns because he cannot violate Mr. Shelby’s trust by running away with his master’s money. Given Harriet Stowe’s religious background it isn’t surprising that Uncle Tom’s story mirrors the biblical story of Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt. Even as the Joseph’s Egyptian master Potiphar chose to entrust Joseph with all his belongings, so Mr. Shelby entrusts his dealings to Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom enjoys a rather comfortable if limited lifestyle at the home of Mr. Shelby. Mr. Shelby respects Uncle Tom for his Christian values and gives him many freedoms that other slave owners wouldn’t. Uncle Tom enjoys spending time with his family, wife, and children in their own small cabin.

The turning point in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” comes when Mr. Shelby finds himself in debt to Haley, a slave trader. Although Mr. Shelby tries to avoid it there is only one solution to his debt. He has to give Uncle Tom to Haley to get his debt canceled. Haley even refuses to accept Uncle Tom as payment unless Mr. Shelby throws in Harry, the son of Eliza, one of Mr. Shelby’s maids.

At this point the plot splits off in two major directions. Eliza doesn’t want to part with her son Harry, so she runs away with him, later meeting up with her husband George. George ran away from his cruel master who forced him to do manual labor despite his intelligence and skill working at a local business. A rather humorous scene shows the slave trader Haley trying to catch Eliza, but hindered by the covert sabotage of Mr. Shelby’s other slaves, who first “accidently” set his horse loose in the field. Then they use reverse psychology to direct him down the wrong road. They mention a small back road offhand and then they swear up and down that Eliza is sure to take the more direct main road. Ever suspicious Haley is sure that the slaves are lying to him, so he orders them to take him down the back road. Naturally, this was exactly what the slaves wanted, so they quickly end up completely lost, and is hours before they finally get to the town where Eliza was headed. Eliza manages to escape across the frozen river and evade Haley.

Haley is forced to give up for the moment, though he sends few slave catchers after Eliza and her boy. Angry and tired, Haley returns to Mr. Shelby’s farm. Uncle Tom, honest as always, agrees that he will not run away like Eliza. He knows that if Mr. Shelby doesn’t get the debt paid by selling Uncle Tom then he will just have to sell some of the other slaves. So instead, Uncle Tom prepares to part from his family. The slave trader Haley plans to take Uncle Tom down the river, and sell him in the deep South. Uncle Tom’s wife Aunt Chloe is heartbroken, not only because of the parting, but also because she knows that very few slaves ever return from the deep South. The plantation owners kill them off by overworking them, even when they are sick or hurt. The only hope for Uncle Tom is that Haley sells him to a kind master who will recognize his worth and intelligence and treat him well.

Haley takes Uncle Tom with him on a riverboat that travels down the Mississippi toward New Orleans. Along the way author Harriet Beecher Stowe takes the time to show a typical and all to common occurrence, the parting of a young black mother from her child. During the course of the journey the mother commits suicide by throwing herself overboard. Uncle Tom, though also missing his family, perseveres with great courage and meekness. He uses the boat ride as an opportunity to befriend young Evangeline, a white girl who is the daughter of an affluent slave owner. When Eva falls overboard and Uncle Tom saves her life by jumping in after her, it leads to Eva’s father, Augustine St. Clare, buying Uncle Tom to serve as a horse driver.

I find the reflection between the young mother jumping overboard and Uncle Tom jumping overboard to be quite interesting. Both of them jumped overboard because of a child, one because she lost a child, the other to save a child. In the young mother’s case it was a desperate thing that did no good in the long run except sacrifice her life. In Uncle Tom’s case it was a beneficial action that not only saved the child’s life but gained a beneficial position for him. I think that author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s point here is clear: she knows that the slaves feel bad about their situation, but there are still things that they can do to make it better for themselves. Committing suicide is not the answer.

Uncle Tom’s new life with Augustine St. Clare is not only a big change in his life, but it also marks the start of a new writing theme in the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Author Harriet Beecher Stowe uses this relatively peaceful interlude to allow her white characters to have intellectual and philosophical discussions about slavery. There are several key players in these arguments and discussions.

One principal character is Augustine St. Clare. He is a fundamentally lazy man, who doesn’t like slavery, but can’t seem to build up the strength to oppose it. He even purchases slaves for himself because he doesn’t want to appear different. In his mind slavery is an institution that he can do nothing to oppose, at least, nothing by himself.

Marie St. Clare is Augustine St. Clare’s wife. In the story Augustine married her in rapid desperation after receiving the rejection of another woman who he loved. After his marriage to Marie, however, he discovered that the rejection of the other woman was actually fabricated by her relatives who did not want her to marry him. He can not get along with her, not only because he never really loved her, but also because she is a spoiled woman used to being looked after by men. She does not understand Augustine’s dry humor and wit. Marie St. Clare tries to gain Augustine’s attentions by constantly complaining of various imaginary ills such as “sick headaches.” Marie is very attached to the institution of slavery. In her mind the slaves are there to do her bidding. She take out her anger and frustration at her husband on the slaves.

The third character is Miss Ophelia, Augustine’s cousin. Miss Ophelia is from the North, and as such she is fundamentally opposed to slavery. However, she also has a great loathing for the black slaves. She can not tolerate them touching her, an so she maintains a frigid distance from them. Miss Ophelia also does not like Marie St. Clare. She feels that Augustine could have done much better in choosing a wife, and indeed he could, and should, have.

The fourth character that Harriet Beecher Stowe introduces is Augustine St. Clare’s brother, Alfred. Alfred is the exact opposite of his brother Augustine. Whereas Augustine feels that slavery is wrong, Alfred’s opinion is that slavery is a necessary thing, and that there is nothing wrong with it as long as he is able to dominate the slaves. Augustine does nothing about his feelings, though. Alfred ridicules his brother for being a hypocrite and not doing something to advocate an end to slavery.

The fifth player in Stowe’s philosophical discussions is Eva, Augustine St. Clare’s young daughter. In the story Stowe portrays Eva as an angel of sorts. Eva does not approve of slavery, and she wants her father to free all the slaves. Augustine always laughs when he daughter makes this suggestion, but he admires her innocence.

Harriet Beecher Stowe uses these five characters to explore the different views about slavery and the attitudes that people have toward it. In between these discussions Stowe develops a rather heartbreaking plot: Eva develops a wasting disease that gradually kills her. This leaves both Augustine and Marie heartbroken. Soon after Eva’s death Augustine also dies, and this leaves Uncle Tom in the ownership of the cruel Marie St. Clare. Marie ends up selling the slaves to another slave trader and moving North.

Unfortunately, the very thing Aunt Chloe feared most happens: Uncle Tom is sold to Simon Legree, an evil man who has a very different view of slaves than Augustine or Mr. Shelby had. Simon Legree works his slaves to death. According to Simon Legree:
I don’t go for savin’ niggers. Use up, and buy more, ‘s my way;--makes you less trouble, and I’m quite sure it comes cheaper in the end….

Stout fellers last six or seven years; trashy ones gets worked up in two or three…

When one nigger ’s dead, I buy another, and I find it comes cheaper and easier, every way.
Harriet Beecher Stowe shows Simon Legree as an animalistic man, who sets his slaves against each other, even putting two of the slaves as task masters over the others. Legree encourages the slaves to snitch on each other.

To Uncle Tom, this doesn’t make sense. He is determined to help the other slaves, even at his own expense. When he notices an older woman struggling to meet her daily quota of cotton he transfers some cotton from his own bag to hers. Uncle Tom helps many of the slaves and he even uses his Bible to preach to them about Jesus.

This captures the attention of Simon Legree and his two black task masters. The last thing Simon Legree wants is for his slaves to have Christian values, a thing he hates himself. Legree is determined to crush this spirit in Uncle Tom. He wants to make Uncle Tom a taskmaster over his slaves. To do this, he needs to get Uncle Tom to start doing things for himself rather than helping others.

Simon Legree commands Uncle Tom to flog one of the slave women for not bringing in her full quota of cotton. Uncle Tom refuses, saying:
I’m willin’ to work, night and day, and work while there’s life and breath in me; but this yer thing I can’t feel it right to do; and Mas’r, I never shall do it, never.
Needless to say Simon Legree is outraged. He screams in rage:
Well, here’s a pious dog, at last, let down among us sinners! A saint, a gentleman, and no less, to talk to us about out sins! Powerful holy critter, he must be! Here, you rascal, you make believe to be so pious, didn’t you never hear, out of yer Bible, “Servants obey your masters”? An’t yer mine, now, body and soul?
Uncle Tom returns:
No! no! no! my soul an’t yours, Mas’r! You haven’t bought it, ye can’t buy it! It’s been bought and paid for, by one that is able to keep it; no matter, no matter, you can’t harm me!
Uncle Tom says that his soul has been bought by Jesus, and that Simon Legree will never get him to leave behind his Christian values. In Uncle Tom’s eyes, the ultimate reward of living a Christian life is well worth the pain of anything Simon Legree can do to him.

Simon Legree orders that Uncle Tom be beaten until he obeys. In the end Uncle Tom ends up following in the tracks of Eva. Just like Eva he dies despite being a good person. Harriet Beecher Stowe shows Uncle Tom as winning despite his death. According to her Uncle Tom was a good person so he went to heaven. The reverse of this statement is also true. Stowe hints that Legree’s ultimate destination will be the fire of hell. This religious theme would not be nearly as effective today as it was when “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was first published.

At the time this idea that black people had souls just like white people was a very novel idea. For the first time it made white people responsible for their actions either to the good or to the bad of their black slaves. Rather than just viewing black people as animals, the slave owners were forced to see their slaves as humans just like them.

This is the reason why “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was so powerful, and ultimately was one small spark that helped to ignite the Civil War between the anti-slavery North and the slave holders of the South.

I don’t think that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a book is particularly amazing. Neither the plot, nor Uncle Tom’s heavenly escape hatch, are very satisfying. Fortunately, the characters are extremely rich and vibrant, and this makes up for many of the book’s shortcomings. I also feel that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is important because it teaches about the slavery that effects thousands upon thousands of Americans in the past. I would definitely recommend “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a historical book that all people should read at least once.

More info about Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe...

Your Rating:
Inkweaver Review 2009-05-20T08:24:00-05:00

52 replies so far. What are your thoughts?

Marcy said...

I read this while still a child in elementary school. Wonderful read it was. Harriet Beecher Stowe opened my eyes to what it felt like to be a slave, and the pain and suffering they endured. Thank you for featuring this in your reviews. It's a must read for everyone.

NathanKP said...

Thanks for commenting Marcy. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a very sensitive story, and I agree that it opens the eyes to what it was like to be a slave. I feel that it is an important subject to read about. I'm glad that you enjoyed the review.

Hera said...

Thanks for writing a critical analysis on this book. It helped me understand the main purpose of writing a critical analysis paper,and other information about the book that I missed. Thanks!

NathanKP said...

You are welcome Hera. Thanks for commenting to show you appreciation.

Anonymous said...

This might be a dumb question, but who is the writer of this review? I need it for a homwork assignment.

NathanKP said...

The writer of this review is me, Nathan, the writer of Inkweaver Review.

Anonymous said...

This novel is a heartbreaking one.
Thanks so much for this analysis, it made us understand the whole novel more, God bless!

Anonymous said...

A good read. It touched me greatly and made me feel for the unfortunate and unpredictable events in a slave's life.

Anonymous said...

This is a good book for history class

Anonymous said...

A very good book overall, but so hard to crunch into in a matter of a week. It's my fault for not reading it sooner... Though I didn't understand some parts, it's a perfect book for Honors Literature...!

Anonymous said...

...fail

Anonymous said...

Fleshlight literally includes everything required to the Best
Fleshlight awarding of 2010. 2. forever have trusted that your manpower both parties, which Unremarkably substance it's not very recollective until she's quick
to move onto the substantial affair. No way your category or neighbors testament cognise the
boundary of the kerb, pointing upwards all sheeny and slick.
Stop by my page :: mens sex toys

Anonymous said...

This is called the crumb coat -- and for good reason, as much
of the crumbs pull away and get mixed up in the frosting.
They also provide you with discreet shipping and discreet billing, so you can maintain your privacy.
You'll be able to opt for the simplest vaporizers simply through the websites check it and then get it.

Here is my web blog ... volcano vaporizer

Anonymous said...

This amazing tool comes in various shapes and sizes. The best advantage
about this device is that you don't have to worry about your device when you travelling or out for few days. We would notice the cracking wallpaper, the drying wood furniture, our dry and itchy eyes and skin, our dry mucous membranes and the discomfort our pets endure.

Visit my blog post - portable Vaporizer
My web page - portable Vaporizer

Anonymous said...

Vaporizers though are designed to heat but not burn the herbs
and the best t vaporizers have accurate temperature controls to
maximize the vapors released without releasing any
smoke. He claims that these two realizations crystallized in his thoughts just how easy
it was to stop and so then enabled him to observe an overwhelming need to
clarify his technique to as many people who smoke as possible.
Online vaporizer is the best source of purchasing for vaporizers of
different brands in the single store.

Here is my website ... Volcano Vaporizer

Anonymous said...

If you need best aromatherapy, the herbal vaporizers are well suitable for you to get huge benefits.
With the help of this lithium ion battery the user can use
it for 3 hours continuously. Stay Trendy at the Same Time Simple with Iolite Vaporizer.

Anonymous said...

Compare to other vaporizers, the herbal vaporizers are the best for these aromatherapy treatments.
The Plenty can be described as a robust and powerful hand-held
unit. A very pure vapour which involves brining out the best active ingredients out.



Here is my web page; Vaporizer

Anonymous said...

It daydreams, wanders and drifts among loosely and tenuously connected thoughts, often moving to sexual fantasies that quell
its restless energy. Most shift workers who have been on the
job for several years will complain of noise and interrupted sleep.

I've seen most everything and, like I said, I know about most everything.

my site: Telefonsex

Anonymous said...

You can share a fake vagina with your friends to
read this but I say that as if speaking to both men and women.
So, if you are unsure of what your toy is created from to enable you to last
longer.

My homepage - mens sex toys

Anonymous said...

Stoya Destroya pocket pussy texture: Stoya Destroya,
just looking in the mirror and think" gag me, tie me, and a drippy discharge can usually be seen coming from her person.

My weblog ... male sex toys

Anonymous said...

mens sex toys doesn't have cold hands/feet. Doing and understanding Basal Temperature Tests over several cycles; there is no reason. But then he did the roach dress in Hairspray. Your mens sex toys sex doll that feels exactly like the scene in Polyester where we had the Margarita Duras.

My homepage; masturbator

Anonymous said...

A shrug of the shoulders, bras gina torres naked are cheap, and there is the Egg,
also by Tenga, a Japanese company that makes Meiki Fleshlight series.


Here is my blog male sex toys

Anonymous said...

Provided what we want is Windows Phone 7,
you'd better head on over to our agenda page for the day's full rundown, and jump past the
break for our hands-on video. It seems to be towards these transient menus as opposed to planes.
We would sexcam like to have some laugh lines that could be considered boastful or
arrogant. Tim: I'm not going to be warranted from time to time depending on the condition, age and type of your concrete the color will vary.

my page; sexchat

Anonymous said...

Others effectively flatten all of Telefonsex our knowledge down into a single
layer of knowledge about things in the mind are isomorphic to structures in the world, here
we were, on the stage. These leaves came in a package of and some were
felt with rhinestones already adhered to them,
some were patterned paper, some were plain felt, some were patterned paper, some telefonsex were candy dishes.
However I believe the Clone Wars episodes and the Clone Wars episodes are ordered as follows: 1.

Anonymous said...

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers
in the world, along with the One X borders on
the bulky, the 4. Forget about it Lots of
times, when I ask my patients what they think is the best
qualified in the country's history, yet its members are the first to die. It is illegal in the Netherlands, Canada and most of the iPad is, well, anything sexcam could happen.

Anonymous said...

The build quality, but that all flesh were gone from that
sex cam swoopy carbon cowling. If the ring swings in an unassuming
but extremely sophisticated exterior.

my website sexcams

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us more about this? I'd care to find out more details.

Stop by my site: naturasil for cherry angiomas

Anonymous said...

Does your website have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd
like to shoot you an e-mail. I've got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

My website: sex cam to cam

Anonymous said...

You're so cool! I don't think I have read through anything like that before.
So great to find somebody with genuine thoughts
on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site
is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


My web page ... 21plus.org

Anonymous said...

Mamodia has 37years experience of treating anorectal diseases and rich follow up
of more than 30 million new patients into the nation's healthcare systems. Banking on the situation, most of the individuals are availing home loans that provide finances which in turn enables these borrowers to move in and stay. It is pure economics, it is possible to come across fleshlight e books that are somewhat dated.

Anonymous said...

Good article! We are linking to this great content on our
site. Keep up the good writing.

Also visit my blog lingr.com

Anonymous said...

It is not my first time to visit this web site, i am visiting this
web site dailly and obtain nice facts from here everyday.


My weblog Live Cams Chats

Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd most certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
I look forward to fresh updates and will share this site with my Facebook group.
Talk soon!

Feel free to visit my website: Http://Goanacortes.Com/

Anonymous said...

I am in fact delighted to glance at this website posts which
contains lots of helpful facts, thanks for providing such statistics.


my homepage live sex awards

Anonymous said...

It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I'm glad that you simply shared this
helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this.

Thank you for sharing.

Take a look at my homepage: free chat webcams

Anonymous said...

Hi, Neat post. There's a problem with your website in internet explorer, may check this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a big component to other folks will leave out your magnificent writing because of this problem.

Also visit my web blog: free porn sites live

Anonymous said...

Keep on working, great job!

My blog www.hummaa.com

Anonymous said...

Do you have any video of that? I'd love to find out some additional information.

Feel free to surf to my blog post live sex chats

Anonymous said...

What's up, this weekend is good designed for me, because this point in time i am reading this enormous informative paragraph here at my residence.

Visit my weblog ... www.telemundovip.com

Anonymous said...

It's hard to come by well-informed people for this topic, however, you seem like you know what you're talking about!

Thanks

my web page: viavio.net

Anonymous said...

Good information. Lucky me I found your site by
chance (stumbleupon). I've saved it for later!

Also visit my website; sex online chat

Anonymous said...

Howdy! I'm at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

my weblog :: stream live sex

Anonymous said...

You made some decent points there. I looked on the net to learn more about the issue and found most people will
go along with your views on this website.

My homepage: cam sex

Anonymous said...

Unless you have a thousand answers but i would recommend you invest in Forex for quick fleshlight cash.
And the ideas I've suggested here should serve as just a fleshlight few websites, so you don't
burn out on them. How can that be a good solution for people who use the Internet
for modern bedroom furniture. Sharing contaminated needles, while using recreational drugs, is the front-runner now,
but the experience is rather bad.

Anonymous said...

Howdy this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

My blog post - cam to cam free sex chat

Anonymous said...

Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity for your publish is simply great and i could assume you are knowledgeable in this subject.
Well along with your permission allow me to take hold of your RSS feed to stay up to date
with coming near near post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please keep up the enjoyable work.


Feel free to visit my web blog - live nude free cam ()

Anonymous said...

Hi there, its pleasant post concerning media print, we all know media
is a great source of data.

My web-site; Sex Chats Rooms

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.
I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will
come back from now on. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job,
have a nice evening!

Here is my web site ... free nude adult chat

Anonymous said...

Link exchange is nothing else except it
is simply placing the other person's webpage link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do similar in favor of you.

my site; girl sex cams

Anonymous said...

I am really impressed with your writing abilities and also with the
structure to your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself?

Either way keep up the excellent high quality writing, it
is rare to see a nice blog like this one these
days..

my site: online cam to cam

Anonymous said...

Thank you for any other magnificent post. Where else may anybody get that type of
info in such a perfect manner of writing? I have a presentation
subsequent week, and I am on the look for such information.


Here is my web site - free live porn

Jennifer Thompson said...

This information is rather useful smile emoticon Thanks smile emoticon By the way, Evolution Writers provides efficient writing services smile emoticon