Slaves Property Or Human Beings? Essay example

Slaves Property Or Human Beings? Essay example

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Simon Davis
Mr. Ellis
ENGL 2130
November 14, 2014
Slaves—Property or Human Beings?
Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom’s Cabin to showcase people’s various attitudes toward slavery. Individuals and groups within particular regions of the United States regard slavery differently, depending upon prevailing opinions, as well as their own upbringing. The reader is exposed to viewpoints ranging from those of disinterested onlookers to slaves in shocking situations. She uses the North to symbolize freedom from slavery and the South to symbolize suppression of human beings (Hood 52). She transports characters in the book from the relatively neutral state of Kentucky, northward or southward, so that they encounter changes in attitudes and practices with distance.
The author implies that Mr. Shelby’s attitude toward slaves is that of a privileged land owner who has always lived well and has no need to be a harsh master. His attitude is fairly typical of slave owners in the Border States where servants are more of a convenience than a necessity (Moore 16). Even though Mr. Shelby is kind to his slaves, he is selfish to the point of sacrificing Tom’s welfare for his own well-being, when pushed to the brink of financial ruin (Hada 177-79). He does not want to inconvenience his wife, because he is afraid of her reaction to change.
The farther north Eliza goes in her flight toward Canada, the more sympathy she encounters. The author impresses upon her audience that North means toward freedom, even though a captured runaway slave must be returned to the rightful owner, according to law (Hood 52; Brophy 111-12). Harriet Beecher Stowe wants to encourage readers to help slaves escape from the cruelties of bondage (Hagood 75). Every ...

... middle of paper ... his slaves will work hard on his farm. He sees threatening slaves with brutal beatings as the means to keep him in control of his slaves. He sees Tom as a potential agitator whom he must break. Legree does not know how to deal with someone who is not afraid of him, no matter how cruel the slave master becomes.
Mrs. Stowe gives insight into human character, showing the effects of origin, education, social status, religion, and everyday happenings. By so doing, she hopes to sow the seeds for the eventual abolition of slavery in this country (Hagood 75). The widely read book brings attention to the political issues resulting from the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Readers’ reactions are often volatile, depending upon their backgrounds and motivations. The book continues to be read by those who seek understanding of slavery prior to the Civil War.

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