Augustine St. Clare of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin leaves little room for interpretation of the author's moral point of view. Yet, there remains one big moral question that is not as easily answered. This is the question of the character of Augustine St. Clare--a man who espouses great ideals on the evils of slavery, yet continues to hold his own slaves. Is he a hero because of his beliefs or a villain because of his actions? And just how important is this question to understanding and responding to the novel, as a whole? If St. Clare were a minor character, showing up in just a chapter or two, as another stereotype, i.e. the southern slaveholder who doesn't like slavery, he…show more content…
So St. Clare is like the founding fathers of America--he starts something he cannot finish. St. Clare did not literally begin the practice of slavery, but he supports it by his financial arrangements. Like the founding fathers, he's a great thinker, a believer in ideals, yet trapped by the practical world of reality. An issue very much at the center of Uncle Tom's Cabin. A world that appeared black-and-white to many of the abolitionists with whom Stowe associated was not so clear-cut to Stowe. She showed all sides of the issue as best as she could, despite her obvious bias against slavery. And St. Clare, the slaveowner who opposed slavery, is the biggest example of the moral ambiguity and contradictions that theissue of slavery, and by extension this novel, posed. St. Clare's moral ambiguity makes him tough to figure out. He says great things yet does horrible things. Perhaps not as horrible as Simon Legree, but the principle is the same--just like Legree, he holds slaves. He keeps other human beings in legal and social inferiority to himself. And in another way, he's even worse than Legree in that he makes promises he doesn't keep. He promises Tom his freedom, but does not deliver it. Legree at least is honest about his character and makes no pretensions to
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