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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Either they deny the Negro’s humanity and feel no cause to measure his actions against civilized norms; or they protect themselves from their guilt in the Negro’s condition and from their fear…by attributing to them a superhuman capacity for love, kindliness and forgiveness. Nor does this any way contradict their stereotyped conviction that all Negroes are given to the most animal behavior.

The above quote by Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, is a good starting point for an analysis on the characterization within Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. For many modern critics and readers alike, both black and white, harshly criticize the author for her stereotypical depiction of a black man as only being noble if he possesses a “superhuman capacity for love, kindliness and forgiveness,” like her most noble and humane character in the work, Uncle Tom. However, a deeper analysis of character will demonstrate that to Stowe’s Christian framework, the sacrifices and nobility of Uncle Tom are not ones of defeat and subjugation, rather they are his only option from a moral point of view-and Tom is of the highest moral character possible, some would say a level that is unrealistic in the face of his real abuses. This analysis will show how Stowe uses such characterizations to depict the horrendous nature of slavery in an attempt to change public opinion regarding the once sacredly held American institution. A conclusion will discuss how my own thinking has been affected by the work.

The character of Ophelia is used to contrast the North and the South. Ophelia is an abolitionist who finds the atrocities of slavery horrible. However, she doesn’t seem to care a great deal for slaves either. She has no idea how to handle Topsy and nearly gives up on her altogether until the actions of Little Eva show her that she will get much further with Topsy through love and kindness than she ever could from scoldin...

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Uncle Tom's Cabin. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:53, August 03, 2020, from