Racism In Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

Racism In Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

Length: 1561 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was the defining piece of the time in which it was written. The book opened eyes in both the North and South to the cruelties that occurred in all forms of slavery, and held back nothing in exposing the complicity of non-slaveholders in the upholding of America's peculiar institution. Then-president Abraham Lincoln himself attributed Stowe's narrative to being a cause of the American Civil War. In such an influential tale that so powerfully points out the necessity of emancipation, one would hardly expect to find racialism that would indicate a discomfort with the people in bondage. However, Stowe shows no apprehension in typifying her characters according to their various races. While this at times serves a distinctly polemical purpose, the author often employs racialism in places where it appears to be wholly unnecessary. On the whole, Stowe seems to be all too comfortable with promoting stereotypes unfitting of a polemic piece crying out for the liberation of the Africans and African-Americans in bondage.
George Harris is a slave embodying qualities few people in the South of the nineteenth century would believe to exist in a black man. He displays an adroit ingenuity, inventing a machine that improves the efficiency of cleaning hemp at the factory to which his master rents him out. Unlike many of his fellow slaves, he yearns for something more. When he is belittled and cheated by his master for nothing more than his hard-earned success, he has to restrain every nerve and impulse inside his body to prevent striking back. He shows boldness and audacity in running away from his owner when the sanctity of his marriage to Eliza is threatened, and even more so in his journey to Canad...

... middle of paper ...

...ack Sam (as he is called around the plantation) is a walking stereotype that serves no polemical purpose whatsoever.
There is certainly no shortage of evidence pointing to the fact that Stowe exhibited unabashed racialism in her writing. At times her stereotypes serve a polemical purpose, but there can be found no reason for Black Sam being a mischievous comedian, for George and Eliza being mulatto rather than African, or for the typecasts of the other characters presented above. It should be taken into account that racialism was a well established and generally accepted practice in the nineteenth century, and Harriet Beecher Stowe does not deserve damnation for perpetuating these labels. However, her readiness to label blacks and whites in such a black and white fashion belies the call for emancipation and Christian undertones that her novel presents to the reader.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Harriet Beecher Stowe 's ' Uncle Tom 's Cabin ' Essay

- "So you 're the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War?" asked the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, to Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862. The publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin has forever changed how America would view slavery. The impact of this one ladys pen has set history for Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut into a prominent family of preachers. The sixth of eleven children, Harriet’s father played a powerful and dominant role in the lives of his children and instilled in all of them that they would impact the world....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]

Powerful Essays
1033 words (3 pages)

Uncle Tom 's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- In our country 's weakest decade, one woman moved an immensely corrupt society. Abraham Lincoln referred to her as, “the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war” (Stowe). Harriet Beecher Stowe first published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. She inspired her audience by unmasking the calamity of slavery. This novel quickly became the second best seller, right behind the Bible. Written in the perspective of a slave the story created a new meaning for abolitionists. With unique style and enduring themes the high standard for anti-slavery literature emerged....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Novel]

Powerful Essays
1375 words (3.9 pages)

Harriet Beecher Stowe 's Uncle Tom 's Cabin Essay

- The Role of Words on Society: The Distinction of Humans in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin Throughout history, humans have been instinctually prompted to divide themselves into a variety of groupings including but not limited to, civilization, religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and race. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly, I believe there is an apparent distinction based on race due to stereotyping. Through the words of the anonymous narrator and a wide array of characters, there are claims of humans feeling differently and possessing animalistic qualities due to their race....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]

Powerful Essays
813 words (2.3 pages)

Influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- In an era of Rush Limbaugh and a historic presidency, racism is a topical and controversial issue. People struggle to examine their own racial prejudice. The largest obstacle is not the understanding racism is wrong, rather the ability to pry open the hearts of the prejudice to show how their prejudice affects more than those they stereotype. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs wrote narratives to abolish slavery while appealing to their audience’s emotions. Their writings all helped to speed up the process of abolition, but some of the books used different methods....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Powerful Essays
1585 words (4.5 pages)

The Power of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- Do you have dreams. Do you think that dreams that manifest into actions can change the status quo. Do you think one person can change the world. Robin Williams once said: "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. “This quote in many ways illustrates what Harriet Beecher Stowe wanted to accomplish with her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The anti-slavery novel was published in 1852 and according to Will Kaufman “helped lay the groundwork for the civil war."Stowe was an active abolitionist but her true profession was a being a teacher in Connecticut, where she was born and raised....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Powerful Essays
1226 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

- Much like the purpose of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet titled Common Sense, the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was written for the purpose of spreading the message that racism against the blacks and slavery had to stop. This book, based on real people and factual evidence is considered by many to be the event that started the Civil War in America between the North and the South. This was the piece of information that opened the eyes of a nation who claimed that they did not know that the racism and slavery issue went so far....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Powerful Essays
1323 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

- In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe is trying to show the people that a blending of Christian values and politics will help change and unite the nation. According to Professor Eric Sundquist, “the novel was revolutionary in demanding that the sacred and secular realms be united, that the role of God be reinserted into an American political system that paid lip service to Christian ideals and constantly invoked them in its discourse but failed to act upon them seriously.” Stowe believes that transformation could occur through the power of Christian love....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Powerful Essays
1209 words (3.5 pages)

Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- Harriet Beecher Stowe's nineteenth century novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, gives incredible insight into the injustice of slavery practiced throughout America during the Civil War era. The story follows two plots, that of a runaway slave fleeing for freedom in Canada, and that of a faithful Negro servant being sold and traded in the ruthless southern slave markets. It is not only the parallel plots, however, that offer a sense of contrast to the story. Through depicting the slavery opposing Christian values and morality, the distinction between racism in the North and racism in the South of the United States, and the characters' differences of values and cynicism, contrast provides the book with...   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Free Essays
1319 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

- Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” opened the eyes of millions of people worldwide. The book portrayed the brutal life of the black slaves. It went on to sell millions of copies and was given the title “The Greatest Book of the Age”. (pg. 616) It is had been commented that this book had helped “lay the groundwork for the Civil War”, according to Will Kaufman, and is widely regarded to one of the reasons of the Civil War. Langston Hughes refers to this book as a "moral battle cry for freedom." The characters in her book debated the causes of slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the future of freed persons, individualism and racism....   [tags: brutal life, black slaves]

Powerful Essays
702 words (2 pages)

Social Protest in Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- Uncle Tom's Cabin as Social Protest      Even today, with literature constantly crossing more lines and becoming more shocking, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin remains one of the most scandalous, controversial, and powerful literary works ever spilled onto a set of blank pages. Not only does this novel examine the attitudes of white nineteenth-century society toward slavery, but it introduces us to the hearts, minds and souls of several remarkable and unprecedented characters.   In a time when it was quite common for a black woman to see almost all of her children die, Harriet Beecher Stowe created Eliza; a strong and powerful woman fleeing slavery and risking everything to pr...   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Free Essays
1201 words (3.4 pages)