The many great minds; her father was

The Author and Her Times: Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on June 14, 1811. Her life which was full of intellectual and social work ceased on July 1, 1896. During the years of her life, Stowe was raised by her father Lyman Beecher who was a leading Congregationalist minister and the patriarch of the Stowe family which was committed to social justice . Stowe was born into a family of many great minds; her father was a religious leader, seven of her brothers became ministers, her sister Isabella became the leader for women’s rights, and her other sister Catherine was a teacher and an author who helped shape Harriet Beecher Stowe’s social views. The family’s quest for social justice bled through into Harriet Beecher Stowe with her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was an anti-slavery book that strongly opposed sectionalism prior to the Civil War (Biography.com authors). Stowe published the book during a time of rising tension between the slave dependent South and the industrial North of the United States of America. The North wanted to abolish slavery which was a direct threat the the South’s economy. The North and South had both developed The South depended on slaves to work the fields for no pay; it is how the South’s economy was sustained. Any attack or talk against slavery was taken as a direct attack to the South’s way of life. While this sounds terrible, it is necessary to explain, to further comprehend why Uncle Tom’s Cabin was unpopular in the South other than the South just wanting slaves, that slavery is possibly the best thing for an economy. The reasoning is that hard labor is done for free, there is no obligation and no legal requirement to pay slaves any sort of wage for their strenuous labor. As a result, plantation owners do not have to spend money paying their slaves so therefore a maximum profit is gained from the planting, cultivating, harvesting, and selling of crops. During this time preceding the Civil War, it was common for a woman’s political opinion on the matter to be dismissed with little thought. For this reason, it was unexpected for Stowe to gain any sort of popularity or attention  for contributing to the discussion of slavery in the United States from writing and publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was soon witnessed that all the previous stereotypes were suddenly irrelevant to the case of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the publication of her novel as Uncle Tom’s Cabin received immediate recognition and questions, from both the North and South divisions of the Union. The publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin paved the way for women to be given a place in public issues. Due to the dependence of slaves in the South, the publication brought an onslaught of anti-Tom and pro-slavery novels aimed at the release of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The resulting discussion o regarding Uncle Tom’s Cabin and slavery became so intense between the anti-slavery North and the pro-slavery South that President Abraham Lincoln later jokingly attributed part of the blame of starting the American Civil War to Stowe. (History.com Staff). Form, Structure, and Plot:Point of View: Stowe tells the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin primarily through the use of a third person perspective. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the novel during the 1850s as she witnessed the events leading up to the American Civil War. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is written in the present as Stowe is telling the readers a story which she came up with while witnessing the previously mentioned events. The narrator of Uncle Tom’s Cabin most often takes an omniscient view on the characters, events, and the plot. The narrator very often shows the readers the thoughts and feelings of many of the characters but will mostly show sympathy for the slaves throughout the novel. Throughout the novel, the narrator also switches and makes use of the second person point of view. The dynamic change between perspectives gives readers the chance to see the story of the novel as if the narrator was an actual person in the plot. When in second person the narrator talks as if they are witnessing the events of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and then writing an account afterward to show to the reader. The result of this clever use of shift in perspective from third person to second person and back to third gives the reader a more insightful and descriptive view and understanding of the novel’s events as they happen.  Characters:Setting: Harriet Beecher Stowe opens the novel on the Shelby Plantation in Kentucky during the mid-nineteenth century. On the Shelby Plantation, Uncle Tom resides in a Cabin along with his wife and family. Uncle Tom’s Cabin takes a journey to the world outside the plantation when a fellow slave, Eliza, flees after it is discovered that her son will be sold. Eliza escapes northward from the plantation traveling through Ohio and into several Quaker settlements and continuing into Canada as slavery had been abolished there. Tom on the other hand, takes a journey of his own going further south of the plantation in Kentucky down to New Orleans. The setting was chosen as the novel was written as a way to criticize slavery in the South. The setting goes along with the general knowledge of the author and her times as it is crucial to understand the differences between now and the time period in which Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written. It is important for the reader to understand the differences between the North and South divisions of the United States at the time for them to completely understand why the book was written and why it takes place where it does. The reader must also understand that slavery was an absolutely essential practice in the South for them to understand why the book received negative recognition in the South. The setting is crucial to the novel since the setting reveals an entirety of information about the historical context. The setting also sets the readers up into a social environment were the readers may not necessarily be comfortable. As slavery had been abolished centuries ago, the idea of slavery will cause an individual to become tense and/or uneasy. The setting therefore places the reader into and environment where they are uneasy and will come to expect that feeling. The feeling is further developed when Uncle Tom’s Cabin takes the reader to the Legree plantation where the full brutality and inhumaneness is shown to the reader. The descriptions remind the reader of what was forgotten, the oppression of black people by whites. The reader is taken back in time past the Civil Rights movement and straight to the cause of the racial injustice in the United States, slavery. The reader is reminded of the oppression that white people would force over a black population with any method necessary whether it be violence or tearing families apart. Every individual who read Uncle Tom’s Cabin is reminded of the injustice, violence, and the rare cases of kind masters that slaves were subjected to and were forced to accept during the time preceding and during the American Civil War. The reader is finally reminded that even in today’s society, there are still cases of discrimination, discrimination that should had ended along with slavery. Diction: Syntax: Stowe chose to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin with a combination of more simple sentences for the dialogue of slaves and a more complex sentence structure when the narration is taking place. The slaves dialogue is kept for the most part simple and straight to the point. The most obvious reason for this choice is education or lack there of that slaves received. Not only were slaves rarely treated as living human beings, they were also rarely educated. It was extremely common during the time of the Civil War for slaves to be punished by more labor, physical abuse, or separation from families if they were caught reading, writing, or teaching other slaves to read and write. The choice of the simple dialogue is representative of the slaves’ ability to speak the English language. Stowe chooses to contrast the dialogue of the poorly educated slaves with more complex sentence structures for narration. The contrast between the complexity and simplicity in sentence structure attracts the reader to the true complexity and depth of the plot of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Repetitions:Concrete Detail and Imagery:Ironic Devices:Tone: Harriet Beecher Stowe very quickly and with no hesitation reveals her purpose in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe is extremely rigorous on the topic of slavery while sympathizing with the slaves in the novel. Stowe gives no leeway and no forgiveness to the idea of and practice of slavery. Stowe is quick to make a statement against slavery. “My master! And who made him my master?” (Stowe 17). Very early into the novel, Stowe explicitly and harshly questions the practice of slavery. Stowe argues here that there is no right that whites have over blacks that allow whites to enslave blacks for their benefit. This argument has appeared numerous time in the argument regarding the practice of slavery; who decided that one race has a right to enslave people of another race for personal and societal economic benefit? The answer to that question is quite simple as Stowe portrays it. No one has the right to enslave and oppress another human being for the purpose of using that person for the benefit of the oppressor. Stowe with one quotation has made her argument extremely clear, the practice of slavery is very simply an evil in which no person has the right to practice. Slavery should not be used in order gain wealth or anything, slavery should not be used at all in any society. There are points in Uncle Tom’s Cabin in which Stowe takes a break from firing arguments through characters and simply proceeds to lecture the reader. To complement the blatant attacks on the practice of slavery in the South, Stowe also shows sympathy for the slaves throughout the novel. “The good Lord have pity on us” (Stowe 39). Also very early in the novel Stowe decides to show an emotional effect of slavery on the slaves themselves. When it is found out that one of the family members is going to be sold, the family of slaves begins to plead and begins to pray for mercy. In this example, Stowe not only subtly underlines the evil of slavery even of in the case of a kind master, but Stowe also shows the severe emotional scars that slavery imprints very deeply on the slaves. Stowe first shows the readers that despite the kindness of the masters of Uncle Tom and his family, the slaves are still treated, seen, and sold like property. Slavery not only oppressed someone into submission of every single command given, but it also takes ownerships of the individual which is being oppressed. Slavery takes ownership of the individual’s life, education, emotions, and despite Uncle Tom and his family being given some freedom, their freedom is still owned by their masters. A key reason as to why slaves rarely rebel against their masters is because of the fear of very cruel and extremely severe retribution, much more harsh than normal retribution. An individual who is enslaved is robbed of their emotions. The individual is constantly worried and scared for their life, their family’s lives, and the emotional effects that will affect the individual should one their their family members or even themselves be sold. When a family member or the individual is sold, the person is literally torn away from their family. Often without much advance notice, the person is taken away from their family. The emotions that the individual must cope with are severe. They must deal with sudden separation from their family which can cause anxiety, depression, or anger toward the masters. Since Harriet Beecher Stowe recognizes and shows this negative effect of slavery, Stowe sympathizes with the slaves in the book. Stowe shows a very clear Theme: Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin shortly after the 1850 passing of the Fugitive Slave Act. The Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal for the northern states to assist a runaway slave in any way, whether it be by offering food, shelter, or going as far as hiding and sneaking the runaway slave to a new location as was done very commonly with the organization of the Underground Railroad. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written as a response to the Fugitive Slave Act and was written for the purpose of criticizing the new act and slavery as a whole. The scenes of Uncle Tom’s Cabin serve to convince readers that slavery in an evil which has no place in a society. The relationships between the slaves and their masters are portrayed as positive with the masters appearing benevolent to their slaves. The portrayal of positive relationships between slave and their master in in no way an accident, it was Stowe’s intention from the beginning to portray relationships to the reader in this way as to prepare the reader for what is to come later in the novel. Despite the positive appearance, the evil of slavery is shown when Tom is sold off due to financial struggles occuring on the Shelby plantation. The act of selling Tom tears apart Tom’s family as they are overcome with grief and despair. While Stowe chooses to show the relationships between slaves and their masters to be relatively positive compared to the usual thought, Stowe does not hesitate to show her readers the true evil of slavery. Stower changes the perception of relationships between masters and slaves by taking the reader on an unforgettable trip to the Legree plantation. What happens on this plantation is probably what comes into mind when thinking about slaves and their masters. The Legree plantation is characterized by the departure of the kind master and slave relationships and instead consists of slavery in the most brutal form. Slaves here are subject to beating, sexual abuse, and even suffer from murder. Stowe has built a subconscious thought into the reader that masters can treat their slaves nicely, which is true in some cases; however, Stowe shocks the reader with the transition to an infinitely darker and colder description of slavery. With this transition, Stowe continues to develop the theme and show readers why slavery is an evil which should be abolished from the American society. Stowe shows that slavery is still evil, even when the slaves are treated kindly by their masters. To contrast this end of the spectrum is the dark, brutal, and inhuman manifestation of slavery. The form of slavery where slaves are treated kindly is argued by Stowe in the novel to be just as much an evil as is the form of slavery in which slaves are constantly abused and are living in extreme fear. Significance of the Title: Uncle Tom’s Cabin manages to cram a very deep meaning within its title. It’s also important to discuss that the novel by Stowe has been seen with numerous subtitles throughout the years of its influential life. The most common subtitle, Life Among the Lowly, will be the one discussed despite the other numerous subtitles each with their own hidden meanings and subliminal messages for the reader. First, the main title, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is directly alluding to the small cabin which Tom builds for his family and himself to stay in. With the mention of the cabin in the title, it draw the reader to meticulously look at the cabin for any possible deeper or symbolic meaning. The cabin for Uncle Tom and his family is a place of domestic peace and security. It is even a place of such for the master’s son who will frequently visit and stay at the cabin for numerous and long hours to read to and teach to Uncle Tom and his family about the Bible. Uncle Tom’s master even gives him a more extensive range of freedom than most masters did to their slaves. Since Uncle Tom is granted a more extensive freedom than most slaves, the cabin which he has built is also a physical representation of what dedication and strenuous labor can produce. Uncle Tom’s dedicated labor has resulted in not only in Uncle Tom himself having an unusual amount of freedom for a slave, but his family is also given the extension. The freedom and domestic safety is taken away when Uncle Tom is sold away to another master by his own master. In addition to losing his granted freedom when sold further south, Uncle Tom also loses the connection between his wife and his family. The subtitle, Life Among the Lowly is the most common subtitle associated with the main title so only that subtitle will be discussed. To breakdown the subtitle’s meaning, first the definition of “lowly” will be necessary to find. Lowly simply means a low position in status or importance. So when assessing the subtitle of the novel as a whole, the simple meaning of the subtitle is “life among those with a low social status”. The subtitle is supposed to demonstrate to readers that Stowe views the practice of slavery is not just the sin of one single individual, the master who enslaves and oppresses other races, but instead that it is a sin burdened upon the entirety of the society which allows and practices slavery (Shmoop Editorial Team). So before even opening the book and by simply reading both the title and the most common subtitle, Harriet Beecher Stowe is immediately attacking the southern society of the United States as a whole. By analyzing the meaning of the title, it is now much easier to see why the book can quickly be judged by southern readers at the time of publishing the novel. Not only is the message and story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin an obvious attack on slavery in which Stowe makes no effort to subdue within the plot; the title, which is only a mere seven words on the single front cover of the novel compared to the hundreds of pages lined with thousands of words of the novel itself, is by itself single-handedly serving a severe attack to the practice of slavery in the southern division of the United States. Significant Quotations: “My master! And who has made him my master? That’s what I think of-what right has he to me? I’m a man as much as he is.” (Stowe 17)Additional Comments: Harriet Beecher Stowe did a phenomenal job at creating a counterargument against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and against the idea of slavery in the United States. Stowe presents a very well thought out and complex argument against the evil of slavery in the form of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe’s novel was really effective at capturing the attention of the reader and at revealing the arguments as explicitly as possible. The story of Tom and his family captures readers and brings them back to the times of the American Civil War and the American society which was present at the time. Uncle Tom’s Cabin takes readers back in time and helps them to understand the conflicts between the North and the South over slavery in a new perspective. Stowe’s novel can be used to supplement other sources of the Civil War and to help develop a deeper comprehension of the tense relations between the different people of the new country.  Harriet Beecher Stowe when writing her novel also provided a glimpse to the reader of her opinions of human nature and human rights. It is extremely apparent that Stowe believes that all humans are at least equal to the point where slavery is an unnecessary practice. Uncle Tom’s Cabin clearly shows throughout the story that Stowe used literature as a catalyst to write and speak out against slavery in the United States. Stowe provides the reader with insight as to why slavery is an evil which must be removed from the American society. Harriet Beecher Stowe uses an element of surprise to catch the reader when it is not expected and show them the true horrors of slavery. Stowe builds a subtle trust in the reader when portraying relationships with slaves in a positive light and does not hesitate to quickly break that trust when she transitioned to showed the reader the darkest horrors of what slavery means. By using this surprise, Stowe effectively has shocked the reader and captured their attention once again as she begins to bring the story to an end. Uncle Tom’s Cabin will certainly have a lasting effect on American society. The fact that Stowe’s novel has stood the test of time and still remains popular to this day alone is hope that future generation will remember the atrocities committed and work toward achieving true equality for all. The novel can be perceived in a way as being a plead or a cry for society to work on itself and continue to improve social conditions for all. Uncle Tom’s Cabin will definitely have a lasting effect on me as it is a very eye-opening story into the lives of slaves. Many historical documents regarding the lives of slaves such as first person accounts written by slaves require some research to find and are also rare as many slaves were illiterate and where severely punished if they were caught reading or writing which discouraged writing down accounts of their experiences. While Uncle Tom´s Cabin is not a first person account, it was written during the Civil War time period as a second person account and does a phenomenal job of describing the life of slaves in the South as it showed both the nicer masters all the way to down to the cruel masters who beat and repeatedly abuse their slaves. Stowe’s story of Tom and his family serve as a very powerful reminder to society today of the early days of the United States. It is a humbling reminder of what the United States has evolved over the years from and just how far the nation has come in achieving social justice for all races; a goal of which the Stowe family strived for. For any individual looking to get a realistic and humbling glimpse of the past, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a great novel to do just that. The complex plot, the deep emotions, the realistic characters, and the descriptive setting is bound to remind any reader of the atrocities of slavery and educate readers on what a slave’s life and a slave’s family life was like on plantation managed by rare kind master and the common brutal masters.

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