Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a critique of the slavery tradition in America. This book is set during the time of the Civil War.
The author, being an active supporter of anti-slavery regulations, creates the character of Uncle Tom who is a black slave. The stories revolve around the sufferings and torture that he faced over the years. This novel follows a sentimental strain depicting the realities of being a slave. This book also provides a Christian moral flavor which helps in overcoming such trials and tribulations.
The plot deals with the Shelby family and their decision to sell Uncle Tom and his family in order to raise funds for their farm. But certain violent incidents lead to the permanent estrangement and Tom is left to live with the St. Clare’s. Later in the novel, Tom moves on to Simon Legree, his new master. Here, he debates various ethical and religious issues in the light of his slavery and questions his position within the divine realm of faith. The novel progresses to show Tom finally attaining the freedom he desired but not before understanding certain Christian values.
This novel was the bestselling book in the 19th century after the Bible. This book helped in furthering the abolitionist cause at the time. This book had such a deep effect on the readers that Abraham Lincoln had called this book the start of the Civil War. It marked a change in the way people viewed literature. The profound impact of book as a tool of social change was understood after the publication of this book in America.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin also created a number of popular black stereotypes that are followed even today. Uncle Tom, the motherly and affectionate “mammy”, and the children or “pickaninny” became part of one’s vocabulary. This work charts the journey of Uncle Tom and his faithful service to his white masters.
About Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was a nineteenth century American author and active abolitionist.
Her other books include Agnes Of Sorrento, The Chimney Corner, Old Town Folks, The American Woman’s Home and Woman in Sacred History. She had written various novels, letters, travelogues and other articles which had dealt with the important social issues of her time.
She was an energetic activist and till the end of her life and she continued to protest against various injustices meted out on the coloured people in the country. Her legacy lives on through the various landmarks created on her honour such as the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Ohio. She was married to Calvin Ellis Stowe and died in the year 1896 at the age of 85.