Uncle Tom 's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe

957 Words4 Pages
In the 21st century, Hollywood transformed best-selling novels into movies; in the 19th century, best-selling novels became plays. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became the best-selling novel of the 19th century and elicited widely varying dramatizations. While copyright protection laws are extensive today, they protected only the actual printing of the novel in 1852. Being a phenomenal success, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was immediately adapted and dramatized without Harriet Beecher Stowe’s approval. In these dramatizations known as Tom shows, characters became comical caricatures through the use of blackface minstrel traditions and the true purpose of the anti-slavery novel was lost in this mockery. Unfortunately, these plays frame the modern understanding of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as people became less likely to spend time reading the novel when slavery was already abolished. Tom shows were loosely based on the Stowe’s novel and generally added extravagant effects such as bloodhounds, minstrel traditions, double characters, and alternative endings that avoided Stowe’s original anti-slavery message. When Eliza made her escape in the novel, she was chased by two slave hunters, Tom Loker and his friend, Mr. Marks. On the contrary, adaptations included great Danes to represent bloodhounds in the scene where Eliza crosses the Ohio river to thrill and attract audiences. Thousands of adaptations profoundly increased the dramatic effects of Eliza’s scene on the Ohio river by including an outrageous
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