Navigating Freedom in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" Book Review by sinkopayshun

Navigating Freedom in "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
An analysis of the theme of freedom" in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
# 112551 | 1,905 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2007 | US
Published on Mar 01, 2009 in Literature (American) , English (Analysis) , African-American Studies (Slavery)

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This paper discusses the author's struggle with the question of abolitionism and the societal value of the African-American characters in the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The writer attempts to navigate an apparent contradiction in terms of the institution of slavery versus Jefferson's declaration that "all men are created equal." In particular, the writer discusses the meaning of the final chapters, encompassing Tom's death and the departure of three major African-American characters to Liberia. The writer contends that Stowe was perfectly willing to fight the evils of slavery, but she did not go so far as to ascribe the status of true person-hood to former slaves and that didn't necessarily challenge the claim of black inferiority so much as she simply challenged the morality of the institution of slavery.

From the Paper:

"A major technique of Stowe's in the spreading of the abolitionist message via Uncle Tom's Cabin was to emphasize Tom's humanity by assigning him traits that showed his extraordinary faith to God, as well as the application of such faith in the service of his fellow slaves, who were attempting to escape from Legree. However, it is interesting that Stowe focuses almost completely on Tom's religious traits. Scholars such as Elizabeth Ammons have equated this to a feminization of Tom, asserting that he is "gentle, pious, chaste, domestic, long suffering and self-sacrificing. In a nineteenth century heroine, those attributes would not seem strange" (162). This "feminization" doubly removes Tom from the political sphere (as neither women or blacks had a political voice at the time). "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ammons, Elizabeth. "Heroines in Uncle Tom's Cabin." American Literature 49.2 (May 1977): 161-179.
  • Baldwin, James. "Everybody's Protest Novel." In Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994. 495-501.
  • Frederickson, George M. The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate of an Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.
  • Gossett, Thomas F. Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1985.
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.

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