Feminism in Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

Feminism in Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

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Feminism in Uncle Tom’s Cabin  


While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin overtly deals with the wrongs of slavery from a Christian standpoint, there is a subtle yet strong emphasis on the moral and physical strength of women. Eliza, Eva, Aunt Chloe, and Mrs. Shelby all exhibit remarkable power and understanding of good over evil in ways that most of the male characters in Stowe’s novel. Even Mrs. St. Claire, who is ill throughout most of the book, proves later that she was always physically in control of her actions, however immoral they were. This emotional strength, when compared with the strength of the male characters, shows a belief in women as equals to men (if not more so) uncommon to 19th century literature.

In 1848, the first ever Women’s Rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Though Stowe did not attend, many of those who were strong in the abolitionist movement, such as Fredrick Douglas and Amy Post, did. Thus a correlation was drawn between the abolitionist movement and women’s rights. Both fights were about equality, so naturally those who were supportive of emancipation were supportive of gender equality as well.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin not only follows the life of Uncle Tom, spanning from the time he is sold from his longtime master until Tom’s death, but also follows the life of Eliza, another slave who lives on the Shelby plantation with Tom as the novel begins. But unl...


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...Topsy, but help her repent as well, for Topsy later says, "I will try, I will try; I never did care nothin' about it before" (94).

Uncle Tom’s Cabin contains almost as basic of a moral as any story could; love has no physical barriers. The goal of Stowe’s novel is to show that in terms of race. But at the same time Stowe shows it in terms of gender as well. By making the female characters more morally righteous than the male characters and displaying the women’s physical feats more overtly than the men’s, Stowe enables the audience to see a side of women relatively unseen in 19th century American culture.

Works Cited

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1927

 

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