Harriet Beecher Stowe achieved what is, clearly, her greatest notoriety for writing the
novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin between 1851 and 1852. She was radically inspired by the
passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, and managed to write one of the most successful works
(if not the most successful work) of abolitionist literature. It is even said that Abraham Lincoln
described her as the “little woman” who started the “great war.” Though this presidential
endorsement might be entirely one of legend, it is still worth noting that Stowe has become
linked in the historical eye with the causes of the Civil War.
This meeting, of course, with Abraham Lincoln also serves to illustrate a greater
point: nobody can be sure of whether anything along those lines was actually spoken to
the “little woman.” Yet it has become a part of our collective historical memory, and has
become as good as fact in its recognizability. This identical situation is one that has befallen
Uncle Tom’s Cabin itself.
There is a public view of Uncle Tom, the character, held by anybody with a well-
tuned social conscience--which of course includes many, many people who have never so
much as opened the book. To a lesser extent, the same can be said for the characters of
Topsy, Eva, and Simon Legree, the latter being as much a staple of the Saturday-morning
cartoon canon as the literary canon.
We remember these characters, most of us without ever having actually met them.
Whether or not Stowe was offered such historical significance by the likes of Abraham
Lincoln takes a back seat to the fact that we remember her being assigned th...
... middle of paper ...
...is by casting Tom in the role of heroine that the audience is already so
comfortable reading about.
Baym, Nina. Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and About Women in America,
1820-1870. New York: Cornell UP, 1978.
Bellin, Joshua D. “Up to Heaven’s Gate, Down in Earth’s Dust: The Politics of Judgment
in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” American Literature 65.2 (1993): 275-295
Bentley, Nancy. “White Slaves: The Mulatto Hero in Antebellum Fiction.”
American Literature 65.3 (1993): 501-522
Lang, Amy Schrager. “Slavery and Sentimentalism: The strange career of Augustine
St. Clare.” Women’s Studies 12 (1986): 31-54
Painter, Nell Irvin. “Honest Abe and Uncle Tom.” Canadian Review of American
Studies 30 (2000): 245-272
Stowe, Harrier Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin: or, Life Among the Lowly. New York:
Modern Library, 2001.
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- Published in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was an answer to the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had declared that all runaway slaves that were caught were to be brought back to their masters. Stowe used the Fugitive Slave Act as “the stimulus for showing [her] white readers how slavery threatened American culture” (Robbins 534). Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel, and Stowe uses the novel touch upon all aspects of slavery and its long lasting effects on not only the slaves, but also their families as well as their masters and their masters families.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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1209 words (3.5 pages)
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- David S. Reynolds, a Professor and specialist in American Literature, Studies, and culture. Who has a Ph.D. from the University of California and author of Mightier than the Sword along with a couple other book. Reynolds wrote “mightier than the sword” with the sole purpose of dismantling all affects the internationally famous book Uncle Tom 's Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, brought upon the United States to help abolish slavery and the forming of American culture from the late nineteenth century, and up to present day.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]
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