Uncle Tom's Cabin Character Report

Uncle Tom's Cabin Character Report

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I Introduction
During the pre-civil war era, slavery had its ups and downs. Before the cotton gin,
slavery was beginning to wind down and the many viewed it to actually lower the US
economy. That was the view until the cotton gin was invented. Eli Whitney's invention
reinvigorated slavery and cotton became king. The chief and immediate cause of the war
was slavery. Southern states, including the 11 states that formed the Confederacy,
depended on slavery to support their economy. Southerners used slave labor to produce
crops, especially cotton. Only a small percentage actually had slaves and few actually
treated them like family. The others treated the slaves like dirt and worked them to death.
Although slavery was illegal in the Northern states, only a small proportion of
Northerners actively opposed it. Many felt that slavery was wrong but had a air of
superiority about blacks, free and enslaved. The main debate between the North and the
South on the eve of the war was whether slavery should be permitted in the Western
territories recently acquired during the Mexican War (1846-1848), including New
Mexico, part of California, and Utah. Opponents of slavery were concerned about its
expansion, in part because they did not want to compete against slave labor. By 1860, the
North and the South had developed into two very different regions. Divergent social,
economic, and political points of view, dating from colonial times, gradually drove the
two sections farther and farther apart. Each tried to impose its point of view on the
country as a whole. Although compromises had kept the Union together for many years,
in 1860 the situation was explosive. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president was
viewed by the South as a threat to slavery and ignited the war. The slaves had no say on
the subject, but some were fine with slavery and others despised it, depending on the
master the slave had. These views and attributes stated above were represented by
different characters in the book Uncle Tom's Cabin.
II Body
Uncle Tom could be viewed as a saint and a voice of reason in the book. Uncle
Tom is almost never seen without his Bible, and he used it wherever he went. Although
many treated him as an inferior man, Tom seemed to be able to touch the soul of nearly
any man. Uncle Tom, the main character, possesses a trait that sanctifies him from the

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rest of the characters. Uncle Tom's faith is his source of strength throughout the novel.
This is portrayed socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Uncle Tom relies
solely on his faith in God to assist him in all the trials, tribulations, and hardships that he
endures. Tom never succumbs to the sin that those around him are so deeply engulfed.
Tom's dedication to the Christian faith obviously sets him apart from the other characters
in the story. However, without his unbinding belief in God, Uncle Tom would cease to
be such a Christ-like figure. One must understand that Uncle Tom is constantly paralleled
to Christ during the course of events in the novel. Tom is the social leader of the slaves
on the Shelby plantation. Uncle Tom's cabin is the focal point of fellowship for the
slaves. This is because everybody perceives Tom as a mentor, and also because Aunt
Chloe, his wife, is a fantastic cook. His charismatic personality allows him to lead and
organize their religious meetings which are held in his home as well. In every plantation
he lived, he helped bring more people to Christ. Slaves like Prue and Topsy learned that
someone loves them and in the book that love is the love of God through Tom's teaching.
One can see how Tom's faith allows him to be a social leader among the slaves. Tom's
Christ-like nature has also helped him in dangerous situations. When Tom bought by
Legree and was constantly beaten by Legree and his slaves, Tom thought about God and
was not afraid to die because he believed if he was to die at that time, there was a reason
behind it. After the numerous passions Tom experienced, he brought more people to
Christ. He completed his mission and died a man of God.
Eva, St. Clare and the Shelby family represent the southerners that treated the
slaves more like people instead property. They took good care of their slaves and offered
to free them but the slaves usually stayed with them because of their bond. Eva, the naïve
character in the story considered slavery a good thing because that gave her a lot of
people for her to love and talk to on earth and in heaven when they died. St. Clare had
Tom as a sort of a spiritual counselor. Tom taught Clare the love of God and Clare, with
Eva's help, agreed to free all of the slaves. The Shelby family loved their slaves dearly
and opted to assist the slaves in escaping to Canada and eventually Liberia.
Ophelia embodies what Stowe considered a widespread Northern problem; the
white person who opposes slavery on a theoretical level but feels racial prejudice and
hatred in the presence of an actual black slave. Ophelia detests slavery, but she considers
it almost necessary for blacks, against whom she harbors a deep-seated prejudice, she
does not want them to touch her. Stowe emphasizes that much of Ophelia's racial
prejudice stems from unfamiliarity and ignorance rather than from actual experience-
based hatred. Because Ophelia has seldom spent time in the presence of slaves, she finds
them uncomfortably alien to her. Ophelia seems to be one of the only characters in Uncle
Tom's Cabin whose character develops as the story progresses. Once St. Clare put Topsy
in her care, Ophelia almost had to be forced to be in contact with the slave. At first she
begins to teach Topsy out of mere duty. But Stowe suggests that duty alone will not
eradicate slavery and that abolitionists must act out of love. Eva's death proves to be the
crucial catalyst in Ophelia's transformation, and she comes to love Topsy as an actual
human being and not just a slave. She overcomes her racial prejudice and offers herself
as a model to Stowe's Northern readers.
Mrs. St. Clare and Legree represent the racist southerners who saw slaves as
nothing but property. Mrs. Clare was an example of some of the more passive racists.
Mrs. Clare never really liked the fact Mr. St. Clare allowed Tom to care for Eva. She felt
the slaves to be inferior and totally submissive. Her nephew could possibly have learned
that doctrine through her because he obviously displayed the similar hatred towards
blacks in a more physical fashion. Stowe, through the introduction of the boy shows that
racism is inherited and not inborn. Legree was one of the more aggressive racists. He beat
every slave he had personally and taught the slaves he beat to beat each other. He
despised Tom for his non-violent nature and hard working attitude. That hatred grew until
he finally murdered Tom by whipping him to death.
III Conclusion
I found this book to be very depressing. Its compelling scenes were obviously
incredibly influential to the times when it was first written. It makes a powerful statement
about slavery especially through the deaths of the slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe was
referred to by Abe Lincoln as the little woman who started the Civil War. She also
pointed out that the people of the North not only needed to feel duty when they fought for
the freedom of the slaves but love for them and the human race. I would recommend this
book as an AP book. It helped me learn about hate during pre-civil war era. Stowe's style
not confusing and it was easy to understand. Uncle Tom's Cabin would appeal to mostly
people seriously interested in the Civil War.
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