Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the U.S. and is said to have &...
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the U.S. and is said to have "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War".
Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Seminary and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings]
Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies in Great Britain. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called "the most popular novel of our day." The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, "So this is the little lady who started this great war." The quote is apocryphal; it did not appear in print until 1896, and it has been argued that "The long-term durability of Lincoln's greeting as an anecdote in literary studies and Stowe scholarship can perhaps be explained in part by the desire among many contemporary intellectuals ... to affirm the role of literature as an agent of social change.
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. She came from the Beecher family, a famous religious family, and is best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions for enslaved African Americans. The book reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Stowe wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stances and debates on social issues of the day.
Eliza escapes with her son; Tom sold "down the river", Eliza's family hunted; Tom's life with St. Clare, Tom sold to Simon Legree, Final section.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's main work Uncle Tom's Cabin has an incredible legacy. Focusing on the plight of African American slaves in antebellum USA, it was charged by Abraham Lincoln with the outbreak of the American Civil War and it is easy, even in this modern day, to see why: the amazing legacy is matched by the fantastic plot which follows the irresistibly loveable character Uncle Tom through his trials and torments under different slave owners and the intertwining lives of various other slaves. At once thrilling and devastating it is no surprise that the novel had such a profound effect on the people of the day.
One of the most pervading themes of the book is faith, most importantly its inability to be shaken. The inspirational character Tom's strong faith is demonstrated throughout the novel and the way that, despite all the hardships he suffers, his faith is unbreakable has had an acute impact on me as a reader. Full of poignant moments, the novel shows Tom's admirable and steadfast faith in God until the very end. Particularly profound is the way that the other characters prove contrasting in their ability to trust and hope; unlike Tom, they allow themselves to succumb to the hopelessness of their surroundings.
The tumultuous and twisting plot makes for a real page-turner of a novel and the journeys undertaken by the main characters of the novel are cleverly paralleled in terms of hope. When a sense of hope for a new life and new beginning for one character overtakes the devastating loss of hope for another, the effect is bittersweet and one can't help but wish that Beecher Stowe had composed a sequel.
Of course, the dominant theme of slavery woven throughout the novel makes for a deeply disturbing lesson in the History of not just the USA but also of the world. Through Beecher Stowe's eyes we learn about perhaps the most damaging effects of "peculiar institution" – not the physical punishment the slaves are served, nor the loss of the fundamental human right to liberty, but the separation of families and loved ones, a cruel reminder of the dehumanised way in which the slaves were treated.
I urge everyone and anyone to read this novel – despite the fact that it was abolished before our time, it gives a real insight into all aspects of slavery. If you want a heart-wrenching book that explores one of the greatest evils of humanity, whilst still retaining a small piece of hope for change, Uncle Tom's Cabin is for you.
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