Its anti-slavery message, in direct response to the Fugitive Slave Act ofprovoked unprecedented levels of critical disagreement throughout the North and South, serving as a catalyst for sectional conflict. Following the war and the end of slavery, the novel—and its numerous stage adaptations—continued to serve as a focal point for discussions of race in America well into the twentieth century. Stowe often claimed that the writing of her most famous work was aided by the hand of God, tracing its inspiration to a Brunswick communion service in which she tried to imagine the death of a pious slave at the hands of a white master.
Evil, Affliction and Redemptive Love, critic Josephine Donovan says that the main theme of Uncle Tom's Cabin is "the problem of evil [shown on] several levels: In order to accomplish this goal in an effectively dramatic fashion, she could not merely present slavery as a monstrous wrong, chewing people up and spitting out what remained of them, physically and spiritually; she had to show it in conflict with a force that she knew to be more than equally powerful: The theme of the novel then not a simple theme, either, because of the levels Donovan enumerates is this conflict.
Slavery is a powerful wrong.
It is said to be wrong — in all cases, notwithstanding fair individual treatment of slaves — throughout the novel, first by George Harris, later and at length by Augustine St. Clare, and always by the narrator, directly as well as indirectly through the use of irony.
It is shown to be wrong from the beginning of the book, despite the relatively benign setting of Shelby's Kentucky farm; again, individual slaves in individual cases may be well treated and even happy in their situations as Eliza apparently has beenbut the institution not only allows but is entirely based on the objectification of all slaves as commodities.
Such objectification is evil, in the kind of actions it permits and supports and in the spiritual damage it does to individuals. Because Shelby, portrayed as a decent if somewhat shallow and thoughtless man, is in debt, he is forced — according to law, because he owns property — to sell some of that property.
The fact that he is also selling, as Chloe says, "heart's blood, heart's love," is, by that law, irrelevant. Shelby and Haley are introduced as a pair of opposites, one a "gentleman," the other a crass materialist of no sensitivity or cultivation.
In fact, their participation in slavery makes them as Haley reminds young George Shelby the same. Haley sees all slaves, all the time, not as people but as profit or loss.
Shelby sees them as such only when he is in serious money trouble, but this is a difference of degree, not kind. Shelby's selling of Eliza's child is, as an act, no less evil than Haley's selling of Lucy's baby to a passenger on the Ohio riverboat, although the consequences are quite different.
Shelby tells Haley that he will not consider selling Eliza into sexual slavery not because he knows this would be wrong, but because his wife would never forgive himbut he scarcely hesitates to sell little Harry into what he knows is almost surely the same fate.
Throughout the novel, Stowe shows slavery as hurtful and harmful to individual slaves, physically and emotionally; she knows this will have a wrenching emotional effect upon her audience.
Thus Harris's forcing George to kill his own dog, Eliza's painful and frightened flight away from the only home she remembers, Tom's heartbroken farewell to his wife and children, the separation of old Aunt Hagar from her last and only child, the brutal whippings endured by George, Prue, Tom — all of these incidents are effective in showing the institution as it creates pain.
But even more terrible, from Stowe's point of view, is its creation of moral injury. Beginning subtly, with her sketch of Black Sam on Shelby's farm, whose morality is compromised by his need to promote himself as a favorite to his master making him willing to help capture Eliza and her son if need beStowe shows slaves whose moral and spiritual soundness is damaged or destroyed by what happens to them.
Lucy, on the steamboat, commits suicide despite Tom's efforts to help her. Old Prue, in New Orleans, tells Tom she would rather go to hell than to a heaven where white people are; she is in despair, and she dies in this condition.
Cassy, too, is in despair; she has committed murder and attempted murder, and she is ready to kill Legree. Clare's slaves, who have learned to see themselves as materialistically as their owners see them, are morally degenerate.University at Berkeley: The Critical, Popular and Cultural Response to the Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin About the Author Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, ).
Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a landmark in two directions. It galvanized the antislavery movement at its publication and may have been largely responsible for the Civil War; it now enjoys notoriety as over-sentimental condescension, its protagonist the symbol of fawning.
Essays and criticism on Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin - Analysis. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and published in the United States in The novel depicted slavery as a moral evil and was the cause of .
The following entry presents criticism of Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly (). Uncle Tom's Cabin, the book that Abraham Lincoln reportedly claimed started the Civil.
A Critical Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin. 3 Pages. A Critical Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin Uncle Tom as a Transcendentalist Protest Figure An Analysis of the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Life Among the Lowly is one of the key novels that triggered the American Civil War.