Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is arguably the most influential novel in American History. Stowe’s sentimental writing style seized the imagination of her readers and Uncle Tom’s Cabin became the standard of the abolition movement. Uncle Tom, one of the protagonists, spreads Christianity and dies for his faith, like Christ. By equating Uncle Tom with Jesus Christ, Harriet Beecher Stowe deliberately provokes her audience to social change and abolition.

In his death, Tom becomes Jesus Christ. Tom sacrifices himself for harboring knowledge of the actions of escaped slaves, and for his devotion to his faith. Upon being carried away by his tormentors, Tom says the final words of Christ, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit!” (Stowe pg. 357; Luke 23:46). This begins Stowe’s reproduction of the Crucifixion of Christ. Tom’s death is described as a horrible and painful experience, equating it to the crucifixion. Yet, like Christ, Tom is not alone, for Stowe writes “There stood by him One, -seen by him alone, - ‘like unto the Son of God,’” (Stowe pg. 359). Both Christ and Tom do not capitulate because God gives them the strength to withstand the pain. During Tom’s crucifixion, there is a sense of audience, alluding to the public present at the Crucifixion of Christ. The passage is littered with allusions to reinforce the sense of crucifixion, Sambo offers Tom brandy, an allusion to the sour wine Christ is offered, Sambo and Quimbo “took [Tom] down” (Stowe pg. 359), alluding to Tom being on a cross. Most significant of the ideals Tom adopts from Christ is that of forgiveness, by forgiving those who tortured him, Tom completes the replica of Christ. He tells Legree, th...

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...olition, and it portrays slavery as an evil and immoral practice. In her final chapter, Stowe addresses her readers, saying “The tragic fate of Tom, also, has too many times had its parallel, there are living witnesses, all over our land, to testify,” (Stowe pg. 381). Stowe views Tom as a paragon of heroism, whose actions are equal to anyone, regardless of race. The author emphasizes this through her melodramatic and sentimental style of writing. The book’s descriptions of the horrors of slavery outraged southerners, who declared it a book of lies. Despite the criticism, the novel was a best seller and was widely read, impacting the thoughts of its readers. The novel’s influence was so pronounced around the country, leading to and during the civil war, that upon meeting Harriet Beech Stowe, President Abraham Lincoln said, “So you are the woman who started this war.”

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