Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a teacher at the Hartford Female Academy. It depicts the reality of slavery and is based on real life experiences of another slave, Josiah Henson.
Jenson a former slave escaped slavery in 1930 to live in Canada, where is now called Ontario. He helped other slaves to flee savagery of slavery
and helped them become self-sufficient. Henson wrote his memoirs while living in Canada, and Stowe agreed that she was Henson’s writing impressed her enough to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the name of Henson’s abode that has been a museum since the 1940s.
The main characters of this novel are Emily and Arthur Shelby, a farmer who must sell some of his slaves to keep his farm afloat. Eliza, Mrs. Shelby’s maid, son, Harry, and Uncle Tom with his wife and children are the slaves to be sold. Eliza informs Uncle Tom of their impending doom and tells him that she will not stay and loose another child; she would run away with Harry. The Shelby’s are obviously good people but they are forced to sell these slaves out of dire need. Eliza leaves with her son and Uncle Tom is sold.
Tom is sold to a slave trader and placed on a riverboat down the Mississippi. Tom saves the life of young white girl, Eva, and she begs her father Augustine St. Clares, to buy Tom. St. Clares buys Tom from the slave trader. Eliza’s plight does not turn out as well as Tom’s; she met up with her husband, George Harris, but unfortunately, they are captured by a slaves’ hunter, Tom Locker. To save themselves Harry pushes Locker over a cliff; however, he is retrieved and taken to Quakers for medical treatment. Tom lives two years with St. Clares, his friend Eva dies. Even though St. Clares had promised to free Tom, he died before he could accomplish this and his wife sells to a vicious famer, Simon Legree. Until now, the novel does not seemed to have an antagonist but it does now, Legree fits the character of an antagonist. Legree does not like Tom, especially when Tom refuses to beat fellow slaves, Legree also tries to stop Tom from reading his Bible, but he fails.
With Legree as antagonist, Tom becomes the protagonist; Legree tries in every way to break Tom and when he could not he orders Tom to be beaten to death. Not even death is going to break Tom’s faith in God. Legree’s character is used to show the cruelty of slavery and although there are other subthemes’ in the novel, the main theme of the novel is slavery. One of the subthemes is Christianity. Stowe brings back Tom Locker into the story to show how the Christian Quakers have changed him. Also it shows how Eliza’s faith would not allow her to leave Locker alone even the chance of being recaptured does not make her forget what it means to be a Christian.
Another subtheme in the novel is the family. Eliza’s main reason for running away is to be with hers son. She rejects the loss of another child and despite the fact that her mistress is good to her “mother’s love” wins out in the end. The other example of family demonstration is when little Eva begs her father to buy Tom. In contrast to these examples it the indifference of slave masters to acknowledge family. There is no indication to show that Tom is sold with his family. And as much as her mistress promises, if it were not for the fact that she matters into her own hands, she would have been separated from her husband.
Slavery is one of the greatest atrocities that have ever happened to human, Stowe’s fictional novel though based on experiences of slavery, has only marginally touched on mayhem of slavery.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Boston, John P. Jewett and Company. 1852. Print