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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is not without its fans and critics alike. However, despite the praise or criticism, the book is unique in that it uses characterization to symbolize the different forces involved in America’s struggle to reconcile its duality as a “free” country supporting institutionalized “slavery”. 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 of her era regarding the once sacredly held American institution of slavery.

The character of Ophelia is used to contrast the North and the South at this period in history. 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 scolding or beatings. Like Uncle Tom, Little Eva serves as the model of love and compassion for others that Ophelia develops in the novel as it progresses. While she is forceful and efficient, Ophelia is also good and her actions will eventually help in the attempt to rescue Un...

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Uncle Tom's Cabin. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:01, August 03, 2020, from