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While Stowe could have allowed the reader to remain ignorant for a time, experiencing each terrifying event along with Legree, she chooses instead to pull back the curtain and reveal the falsity of the Gothic story-within-the-story. In this way, scenes can be played for knowing laughs rather than shudders, as Cassy puts the Gothic elements around her and within herself to good use. Her revenge need not, as it has in the past, drive her to violence and insanity; rather, by enacting a uniquely feminine story of haunting, Cassy punishes her master without incurring punishment upon herself.

In doing so, Cassy takes advantage of each of the three Gothic female types she previously fulfilled. In doing so, she reveals her potential for not only sanity but also domesticity, turning a formerly ominous space within a Gothic setting into a domestic one for herself and Emmeline.

Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays on the Writing of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Cassy, by utilizing what she has and who she is, makes the stronger escape, one that severely punishes her jailer. Footnote 4. His unrepentant soul indicts itself. There lies in slavery a deeper despair than any that Gothic fiction can provide, for the Gothic space, though perhaps not the Gothic mind, is escapable: the dream landscape has borders that the protagonist may cross into the light of wholesome reality. For the slave, no wholesome reality exists—the oppression of the dream landscape is no isolated incident, but rather the norm.

In Christianizing the Gothic, then, Stowe creates an opposite sort of resolution: since, in her construction, the Gothic space is unresolvable, she instead resolves the Gothic mind, setting it at rest through its conformation to Christian ideals.

Though Cassy has escaped from the clutches of Simon Legree, she still retains her Gothic mind and threefold Gothic nature. Her losses cannot be unwritten, and she remains a haunted Gothic figure, a ghost lost within and utterly defined by her past. However, by reuniting her with her lost family and bringing her into the realm of Christianity, Stowe puts that ghost to rest and neatly ties together the remaining loose threads of the novel. Only through the balm of Christianity can the shattered Gothic mind be redeemed—though the Gothic space may continue to haunt, though the horror-filled past can never be unwritten, the love of family and the light of Christianity offer a renewal that ultimately allows Cassy to escape the Gothic mind and be restored unto new life.

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Thus, at the end of the novel, Stowe reveals that the unendurably tragic, bitter life of a slave mother can find its end in hope and peace. Palgrave Communications. Publisher's note : Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Footnote 5 Footnote 6 Footnote 7.


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American Literature ; 49 2 : — In: Waterman B ed. Norton Critical Edition, W. Norton and Company: New York Original work published in Crow CL American Gothic. In: Sundquist E ed. Cambridge University Press: New York, pp — Noble M An ecstasy of apprehension: The gothic pleasures of sentimental fiction. Rediscovery and ultimate canonization, however, have concentrated to a large extent on her major novelistic achievement, Uncle Tom's Cabin Only in recent years have critics begun to focus more seriously on the wide variety of her work and started to create knowledge that broadens our understanding.

Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe, edited by Sylvia Mayer and Monika Mueller, shows that during her long writing and publishing career, Stowe was a highly prolific writer who targeted diverse audiences, dealt with drastically changing economic, commercial, and cultural contexts, and wrote in a diversity of genres.


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Reflecting a recent trend to move Stowe's other texts to the fore, the essays collected in this volume thus go beyond the critical focus on Uncle Tom's Cabin. They focus on several of Stowe's other texts that have also significantly contributed to American literary and cultural history, among them her New England novels, her New York City novels, and her fictional writings on religious differences between Europe and the United States. The essays in the first part of Beyond Uncle Tom's Cabin concentrate on Stowe's language use, her rhetoric and choices of narrative technique and style, while the essays in the second part concentrate on thematic issues such as the representation of race, ethnicity, and religion, her participation in the emerging environmentalist movement, and Stowe's response to major economic shifts after the Civil War.

Sylvia Mayer is chair of American studies and Anglophone literatures and cultures at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Acclaimed Southern novelist William Gilmore Simms declared the work utterly false, [55] while others called the novel criminal and slanderous. Some critics highlighted Stowe's paucity of life-experience relating to Southern life, saying that it led her to create inaccurate descriptions of the region.

For instance, she had never been to a Southern plantation. However, Stowe always said she based the characters of her book on stories she was told by runaway slaves in Cincinnati. It is reported that "She observed firsthand several incidents which galvanized her to write [the] famous anti-slavery novel. Scenes she observed on the Ohio River, including seeing a husband and wife being sold apart, as well as newspaper and magazine accounts and interviews, contributed material to the emerging plot.

In response to these criticisms, in Stowe published A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin , an attempt to document the veracity of the novel's depiction of slavery.

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In the book, Stowe discusses each of the major characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin and cites "real life equivalents" to them while also mounting a more "aggressive attack on slavery in the South than the novel itself had. However, while Stowe claimed A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin documented her previously consulted sources, she actually read many of the cited works only after the publication of her novel. Thus, Stowe put more than slavery on trial; she put the law on trial. This continued an important theme of Uncle Tom's Cabin —that the shadow of law brooded over the institution of slavery and allowed owners to mistreat slaves and then avoid punishment for their mistreatment.

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In some cases, as Stowe pointed out, it even prevented kind owners from freeing their slaves. Despite these criticisms, the novel still captured the imagination of many Americans. According to Stowe's son, when Abraham Lincoln met her in Lincoln commented, "So this is the little lady who started this great war. Uncle Tom's Cabin also created great interest in the United Kingdom. The first London edition appeared in May and sold , copies.


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As one prominent writer explained, "The evil passions which Uncle Tom gratified in England were not hatred or vengeance [of slavery], but national jealousy and national vanity. We have long been smarting under the conceit of America—we are tired of hearing her boast that she is the freest and the most enlightened country that the world has ever seen.

Our clergy hate her voluntary system—our Tories hate her democrats—our Whigs hate her parvenus —our Radicals hate her litigiousness, her insolence, and her ambition.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin Essay

All parties hailed Mrs. Stowe as a revolter from the enemy. A French edition, translated by M. Carion or by [Anne-]Louise Swanton-Belloc? As the first widely read political novel in the United States, [71] Uncle Tom's Cabin greatly influenced development of not only American literature but also protest literature in general.

Stowe or her handiwork can account for the novel's enormous vogue; its author's resources as a purveyor of Sunday-school fiction were not remarkable. She had at most a ready command of broadly conceived melodrama, humor, and pathos, and of these popular sentiments she compounded her book. Over the years scholars have postulated a number of theories about what Stowe was trying to say with the novel aside from the obvious themes, such as condemning slavery.

For example, as an ardent Christian and active abolitionist, Stowe placed many of her religious beliefs into the novel.

The True Story Behind 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' The Book that Rocked Pre-Civil War America

Was the use of violence to oppose the violence of slavery and the breaking of proslavery laws morally defensible? Scholars have also seen the novel as expressing the values and ideas of the Free Will Movement. Dinah, who operates on passion. During the course of the novel Ophelia is transformed, just as the Republican Party three years later proclaimed that the North must transform itself and stand up for its antislavery principles. Feminist theory can also be seen at play in Stowe's book, with the novel as a critique of the patriarchal nature of slavery.

Moreover, Stowe viewed national solidarity as an extension of a person's family, thus feelings of nationality stemmed from possessing a shared race. Consequently, she advocated African colonization for freed slaves and not amalgamation into American society. The book has also been seen as an attempt to redefine masculinity as a necessary step toward the abolition of slavery. In order to change the notion of manhood so that men could oppose slavery without jeopardizing their self-image or their standing in society, some abolitionists drew on principles of women's suffrage and Christianity as well as passivism, and praised men for cooperation, compassion, and civic spirit.

Others within the abolitionist movement argued for conventional, aggressive masculine action. All the men in Stowe's novel are representations of either one kind of man or the other.

Uncle Tom’s Children

Some modern scholars and readers have criticized the book for supposedly condescending racist descriptions of the black characters' appearances, speech, and behavior, as well as the passive nature of Uncle Tom in accepting his fate. Among the stereotypes of blacks in Uncle Tom's Cabin are [15] the "happy darky" in the lazy, carefree character of Sam ; the light-skinned tragic mulatto as a sex object in the characters of Eliza, Cassy, and Emmeline ; the affectionate, dark-skinned female mammy through several characters, including Mammy, a cook at the St.

Clare plantation ; the pickaninny stereotype of black children in the character of Topsy ; the Uncle Tom, an African American who is too eager to please white people. Stowe intended Tom to be a "noble hero" and a Christ-like figure who, like Jesus at his crucifixion, forgives the people responsible for his death. The false stereotype of Tom as a "subservient fool who bows down to the white man", and the resulting derogatory term "Uncle Tom", resulted from staged " Tom Shows ", which sometimes replaced Tom's grim death with an upbeat ending where Tom causes his oppressors to see the error of their ways, and they all reconcile happily.

Stowe had no control over these shows and their alteration of her story. These negative associations have to some extent obscured the historical impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin as a "vital antislavery tool". In recent years, however, scholars such as Henry Louis Gates Jr.