An Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin

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An Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin

"The book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, is thought of as a fantastic, even

fanatic, representation of Southern life, most memorable for its emotional

oversimplification of the complexities of the slave system," says Gossett

(4). Harriet Beecher Stowe describes her own experiences or ones that she

has witnessed in the past through the text in her novel. She grew up in

Cincinnati where she had a very close look at slavery. Located on the Ohio

River across from the slave state of Kentucky, the city was filled with

former slaves and slaveholders. In conversation with black women who

worked as servants in her home, Stowe heard many stories of slave life that

found their way into the book. Some of the novel was based on her reading

of abolitionist books and pamphlets, the rest came straight from her own

observations of black Cincinnatians with personal experience of slavery.

She uses the characters to represent popular ideas of her time, a time when

slavery was the biggest issue that people were dealing with. Uncle Tom's

Cabin was an unexpected factor in the dispute between the North and South.

The book sold more than 300,000 copies during the first year of publication,

taking thousands of people, even our nation's leaders, by surprise.

Mr. Shelby is a Kentucky plantation owner who is forced by debt to

sell two of his slaves to a trader named Haley. Uncle Tom, the manager of

the plantation, understands why he must be sold. The other slave marked for

sale is Harry, a four-year-old. His mother, Mrs. Shelby's servant, ...

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to wage her own battle. Eva serenely fades into death, but her presence

and her dreams survive in her father and in the reader of the novel.

It is doubtful if a book was ever written that attained such

popularity in so short a time as did Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's

Cabin. "The thrilling story was eagerly read by rich and poor, by the

educated and uneducated, eliciting from one and all heartfelt sympathy for

the poor and abused negro of the south,"(Donovan 74). It was, indeed, a

veritable bombshell to slaveholders, who felt that such a work should be

dangerous to the existence of slavery. They had a good cause to fear it

too, for its "timely appearance was undoubtedly the means of turning the

tide of public feeling against the abominable curse of slavery"(Cass 35).
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