Characterization in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

1765 Words8 Pages
Characterization in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin Either they deny the Negro's humanity and feel no cause to measure his actions against civilized norms; or they protect themselves from their guilt in the Negro's condition and from their fear...by attributing to them a superhuman capacity for love, kindliness and forgiveness. Nor does this any way contradict their stereotyped conviction that all Negroes are given to the most animal behavior. - Ralph Ellison (Litwack 3) The above quote by Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, is a good starting point for an analysis on the characterization within Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. For many modern critics and readers alike, both black and white, harshly…show more content…
Like Uncle Tom, Little Eva serves as the model of love and compassion for others that Ophelia develops in the novel as it progresses. While she is forceful and efficiency, Ophelia is also good and her actions will eventually help in the attempt to rescue Uncle Tom. However, in her dialectics with Augustine we see that she recognizes this dichotomy within herself, but she, unlike Augustine, is willing to develop her good impulses and eliminate her bad ones. As she explains to him, "I suppose I deserve that you should reprove my shortcomings...but it does seem to me, after all, there is some difference between me and you. It seems to me I would cut off my right hand sooner than keep on, from day to day, doing what I thought was wrong. But, then, my conduct is so inconsistent with my profession, I don't wonder you reprove me," (Stowe 245). The character of Topsy is dualistic as well because she is ignorant if energetic. Topsy does not know the difference between right and wrong, in a way an example by Stowe of the many ignorant individuals who supported slavery because they appeared to have no conception of its basic wrongs against humanity and Divine Law. Or, Stowe also utilizes her character to demonstrate that slaves who do not have enough education will
Open Document