Uncle Tom’s Cabin By Harriet StoweUncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Many people believe that a novel hasa direct and powerful influence on American history. One such novel was writtenby a woman by the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe. The name of this novel is UncleTom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher was born on June 14, 181l, in Litchfield,Connecticut.
Her father Lyman Beecher, was a renowned preacher. Harriet was astudent and later a teacher, at Hartford Female Seminary. In 1832, the Beecher’smoved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Just across the Ohio River lay slave territory. Beecher’s visits to plantations confirmed her disdain for slavery. In 1836,Beecher married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a seminary professor (Compton’s).
Uponmoving to Brunswick, Me. , in 1850, Stowe was challenged by her sister-in-law to”write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursedthing slavery is!” The answer to the challenge was Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or,Life Among the Lowly’, which appeared in 1851 to 1852, in an anti-slavery papercalled “National Era. ” Though the story depicts some of the kind andpatriarchal aspects of slavery, it emphasizes the dark and cruel side. Publishedin book form in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was an unprecedented success in Americanpublishing, selling two million copies before the start of the American CivilWar. It has translated into more than 20 languages and presented countless timeson the stage and in motion pictures (Grolier). Stowe died on July 1, 1896, inHartford Connecticut.
Among her other works are “The Mayflower” (1843,a collection of tales and sketches; “Dred: a Tale of the Great DismalSwamp” (1856); “The Minister’s Wooing” (1859); and “LadyBryon Vindicated” (1870) (Compton’s). Harriet Beecher Stowe was inchallenge by her sister and when she had to pick something to write about. Stowedecided to write a fictional story about Slavery. That is the main historicalbasis for this book. During the time of Harriet Beecher Stowe, there was abitter feud between the North (Anti-slave states) and the South (Pro-slavestates).
Blacks, also known as African Americans, were being bounded and theirfreedom was being taken away from them. The south felt that they had the rightto do this. It was their obligation. The north on the other hand saw a differentstory. The North believed in freedom and some equality for all man-kind(exceptfor women back in those days).
New pieces of lands were being won and bought andthere was matter of dispute to what would it happen. In the 1860’s slavery wasabolished with the Emancipation Proclamation. Years before this proclamation, abitter battle was fought between the North and the South. This war was known asthe bloodiest war, putting family against friends and brother against brother. This war was known as the Civil War. Before the Civil War (1861 to 1865),Harriet opened the eyes with her fictional story and made a complete historicalfactor in American history.
This novel opens on the Shelby plantation somewherein Kentucky before the Civil War. The Shelby’s own numerous slaves all of whomthey treat as though they are family. Unfortunately, at the opening of the bookit is understood that Mr. Shelby has gotten into some financial difficulties,and the only way out of debt is to sell some of his slaves. He is left no otherchoice but to sell his most faithful and hardest working slave, Tom, and alittle boy named Harry.
Mr. Haley, a slave trader comes to the Shelby plantationone afternoon to finalize the deal, but the transaction is overheard by Eliza,Harry’s mother. She goes into a panic and swears that she will not allow them totake her child, so she tries to persuade Tom to run away with her and Harry. Tomrefuses because, being the loyal man that he is, he knows that Mr. Shelby isonly doing what he has to do.
This does not discourage Eliza from doing what shehas to do, running away. Due to the separation of these two parties, Stowespends the remainder of the novel updating their progress in designatedchapters. Eliza and Harry leave the plantation as soon as they can get away, buttheir absence is discovered quickly, and this sends Mr. Haley searching for hisproperty. At one point, Haley is so hot on her trail that Eliza has tomiraculously run across blocks of ice on the Ohio River holding her son.
Whenthey reach the other side, they are taken in by a nice family that introducesthem to a Quaker network that aides slaves in their pursuit of freedom. Likemany other slaves at that time, Eliza is determined to reach Canada. Along theway, Eliza is reunited with her husband, George, and eventually the entirefamily reaches their destination. Tom’s journey is not filled with so manyfortunate situations.
He is bought by a nice man, Mr. St. Clare who has adaughter, Little Eva. Eva has a great impact on the life of Tom and the othercharacters in the novel with her angelic qualities. Unfortunately, within daysof each other, Eva and Mr. St.
Clare die, and all the St. Clare slaves are leftin the hands of Maria, the wife. She always hated the slaves and thought thather husband treated them too nicely, so when she gets this opportunity, she vowsto teach them a lesson, and she sells them down the river. It is here that Tom’slife takes a turn for the worst. He is bought by an evil man, Simon Legree, whoprided himself on being able to “break” all of his slaves, but Tom isdifferent.
He is untouchable. Tom’s great faith in God taught him to be honestand good, and no matter what Legree does, these attributes remain part of Tom. This just angers Legree more, and he eventually has Tom beaten to a point whichhe never recovers. While Tom is trying to heal from this beating, he isintroduced to Casey, another slave of Legree’s who desperately needs to runaway. She has lost all faith in God after being stripped of her children yearsago and subjected to a life of hatred, but after talking with Tom she finallyobtains faith, and with this new faith she is able to contrive a way to escapethe deserted plantation with one of the other young slaves, Emmeline. The two ofthem escape victoriously, but since Tom will not tell Legree where the two havegone, he is beaten again, but this time he does not recover.
The son of Mr. Shelby rescues Tom just before his death. This is a hopeless feat, but Tom isable to tell George, the son, some final words for his wife, Aunt Chloe, and theothers. After Tom’s death, Master George gives Tom a proper burial on his returnhome where he meets up with Cassy and Emmeline. It is here that Cassy discoversthat her daughter, whom she thought she would never see again, is Eliza, soMaster George brings the two girls to Canada where the family is reunited. Whenhe finally returns home, George grants Tom’s final wish and emancipates all theShelby slaves.
When he informs them of the news, he tells each of them to thinkof their freedom every time they pass Uncle Tom’s Cabin and let it be a memorialto try to live as honestly and faithfully as Tom with God as their leader. Thisstatement comes at the very end of the book, and it is not until the end thatthe title of Stowe’s novel is understood by the reader. I found Uncle Tom’sCabin to be a very well put book. It has opened my eyes to what life was likeback in the time of slavery. I rate this book a nine.
I found it well writtenand very worth reading. The one thing that didn’t seem to give it that one-pointto make it a ten was that some of the local color in the story was verydifficult to understand and to read. If you have time to read a story whosedialect is hard to read at some points. This novel was rated a 10 forentertainment.
There never was a dull moment in this novel. Whenever you turneda page something new was happening. The theme I rate in this book as a nine,also. The theme was Man vs Man. Overall, the book was excellence and wouldrecommend it to everyone that is worth reading.