Essay on Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's melodramatic novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which she called in the preface a "series of sketches", was written "to awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race" (Stowe "Preface"). It was so successful as a polemic against slavery that Lincoln gently called Mrs. Stowe "the little lady who started this big war" (Hughes "Introduction"). Stowe wrote from the point of view of an abolitionist, a Christian and a Northerner from a state that bordered the slave-owning South.

I. The Treatment of Slaves

It would be an exaggeration to say that all slaves were mistreated physically, and Stowe makes the point that some states were more disposed to treat slaves decently than others. Haley, the trader, comments that "You
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8). Stowe makes the point in Chapter 12, in her account of the auction in Washington, Kentucky, that the upper classes needed the traders to dispose of extra slaves or acquire needed ones, yet they both despise the trader for it ("universally despised - never received into any decent society"), and cause him to be "debauche[d] and deprave[d]" (Stowe, UTC Chapter 12, p. 130).

II. Rationalizations for Slavery

Marie St. Clare defends slavery by claiming that negroes (to use Stowe's term) are inherently inferior ("they are so bad they ought not to live", Stowe, UTC Chapter 19, p. 230), a "degraded race" and selfish (Chapter 16, p. 166-71). They are lazy and have to be disciplined, but even so, sometimes they fail to benefit from the discipline ("it "[whipping] never did him any good", same passage). Marie is so shallow and selfish that her view is really only a self-serving one and not clearly thought out.

Alfred St. Clare, at least as Augustine describes him, followed the ideas of their father. He saw negroes as an inferior race, and did not feel the necessity to treat them as he would his equals. He was "an inflexible, driving, punctilious businessman", who used the hard overseer Stubbs to punish the slaves to get work out of them (Stowe, UTC Chapter 19, pp. 222-23). Alfred also
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