An Analysis of Four White Women Characters
in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
An aim of this study is to analyze the white women characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and reveal the evil and immorality of slavery at that time. At first, it briefly introduces the historical background of this book and the author. Then it gives the summary and the themes about this novel. It uses the method of contrast and comparison to figure out the similar quality of those women, and the unique feature of them. This paper discusses the characters of four white women in this novel and the relationship between their images and the social background. Furthermore, this study reveals the power of women’s morality and Christianity. This paper may contribute to the study of American history in 19th century about the slavery and the conflict between northern and southern.
Key words: slavery, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, white women, morality, Christianity
1.1 The historical background of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
During the nineteenth century in western country, women were considered inferior and expected to be submissive to men. Their place at that time was staying at home raising children, running the household and managing the house servants. The creation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was in the background of feminist movement and the enacted of the Fugitive Slave Law.(“The Renewal”, 2008 ). 1.2 An introduction to the author
The author of this novel is Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was born in America. The Stowes' family was not rich, and therefore, Harriet's life was sometimes conflicted between the necessities of motherhood and writing, or, between vocation and avocation. She eventually bore six children, with whom her writing competed. Stowe chose to write Uncle Tom's Cabin because her sister-in-law urged her to use her skills to aid the cause of abolition. (Amons, 2003) 1.3 Summary of this novel
Uncle Tom is a slave living in Kentucky. His owner Mr. Shelby has failed in speculation. In order to pay his debt, he sells Tom to a slaver Haley. Along with Tom, Harry (another slave Eliza’s son) is also planned to sell to him. Eliza is not a slave who can be shoved around, so she carries Harry escaping to Canada. Finally, this family successfully arrives in Canada. However Tom’s destiny is another way, he is sold to New Orleans. During the shipping, Tom saves Eva (the slaveholder St. Clare’s daughter) from the river, after that he is bought by St. Clare and becomes a groom in Clare’s family. Before St. Clare decides to liberate his slaves, he has been killed. Then Tom is bought by a ruthless slaver Simon Legree, who always maltreats him. When Mr. Shelby’s son George comes to redeem Tom, he is about to die. After George buries Tom, he liberates all his slaves and says, “Think of your freedom, every time you see Uncle Tom’s cabin.” 1.4 The themes of this novel
The major theme of this novel is the evil and immorality of slavery. Besides, the moral power of women and the redeeming possibilities offered by Christianity are also reflected in this book. Upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” Big war here means the Civil War in America in 1851. The novel had a profound effect on the attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States that it is believed to have intensified the conflict leading to the civil war. To some extent, the criticism of slavery in this book stimulates the resistance of those lowly people and evokes the sympathy of those kind Christians. 1.4.1 The evil and immorality of slavery
Slavery will always be found, in proportion to the extent and severity with which it prevails, to injure the morals of a people. That it tends to produce haughtiness, a spirit of domination, cruelty, and lewdness, among the whites, appears probable, upon the slightest consideration of the...
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