Her goal was a success. In the first year, three endured thousand books were sold in America and a million were sold in Great Britain. One of Stole’s greatest accomplishments with writing the novel was that she was able to reach out to those who were indifferent about slavery. After reading the book, people who did not care weather slavery was abolished or not, became abolitionists. Stows hastened the outbreak of the civil war because of this. At the beginning of the war, Lincoln referred to Stows as the “little lady who started the war. The war probably would have started a couple years later if it was not for Stows. During this time there ere many abolitionist works of literature but Uncle Tom’s Cabin was by far the most popular. Many critics have tried to discuss why it was such a landmark novel and what made this piece of literature outstanding. (Vaccination, Hydride) John West describes Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a novel full of prudence. Stows was very crafty when writing the novel. She did not want the content merely to denounce slavery.
Doing so would m alienate the Americans who were indifferent about the subject of slavery. West points out that in order to persuade the indifferent audience, Stows took the virtue of prudence very seriously. By using the virtue of prudence, she was able to craft a novel that was able to persuade the undecided to be against slavery rather than alienate them (West). The first example of prudence is that there is a lot of charity towards the “villains” in the novel. “Rather than depicting slavery at its most depraved, Stows opened her story by presenting slavery in its mildest form”(West).
The novel opens up with a middle class couple who treats their slaves like family. By presenting slavery in a very mild form, Stows “wished to persuade both fair minded slaveholders as well as ambivalent northerners that good intentions on part of individual slaveholders would never undo the unfairness and evils of the slave system”(West). Another example of the novel’s prudence is its self-criticism. “Stows skewers the north nearly as much as the south” (West). When Miss Aphelia, a northern abolitionist, comes to visit SST.
Clare she spends time preaching the evils of slavery, yet she cannot stand to touch a black person. Another example of prudence in the novel is “Stole’s attempt to frame an argument against slavery based not only on morality, but on the slaveholder’s self-interest'(West). Stows illustrates that it is dehumidifying for he slaveholders. “In Stole’s protestant universe, humans reflect the image of God by creating and producing?in short; by working'(West). The slaves do all of the hard work for their masters.
Because the masters do not work, they condemn themselves to a meaningless existence. West explains that Augustine SST. Claimer’s wife Marie lives only to complain about her problems and to demand that her slaves wait on her slightest whim. She has no positive reason for existing and she gives absolutely nothing back to society. West points out that the supreme example of the novel’s prudence is Uncle Tom. His turn the other cheek attitude makes him a Christ figure. His meekness serves an important rhetorical function. By offering readers such a gentle hero, Stows deprived southern critics of the potentially damning charge that her book would stoke the flames of a violent slave rebellion. Instead of viewing slaves as a threat to social order, Stows wanted her readers to identify them with the plight if the suffering Jesus One critic, Samuel Warren, refers to Stows as “a women of genius”(Warren 392). Stows has exhibited a passion, intensity, a subtle delicacy of perception, ND a melting tenderness which of pure genius. Warren discusses some of the literary characteristics that Stows displays in the novel.
Stows displays a fine perception of external nature. Stole’s humor and satire she uses is genuine and racy. There are many indications throughout the work that Stows is checking and restraining her humorous powers. The dialogue Stows uses is very admirable, brief, lively, pointed and characteristic only when she is not trying to be didactic and hortatory. (Warren) Warren then compares Harriet Beechen Stows to Charles Dickens. Stows and Dickens both share animal faults and excellences in their works. Warren claims that “Mr.. Dickens had made a deep impression on Mrs..
Stows. She probes human nature every whit as tenderly as he; her sympathies are as keen and subtle, her spirit is as generous as his and her perception of the humorous is as quick and vivid as his own”(399). Warren also points out that Dickens and Stows both have the same type of structural faults because “the condensation and directness of course would greatly improve the composition of both writings” (Warren 399). Another Critic name De Vaccination claims that it is clear that Stows tried to appease the south when writing the novel.
Vaccination is quick to point out that “Stole’s commitment to challenging the claim of black inferiority was frequently undermined by her own endorsement of racial stereotypes” (135). The use of racial stereotypes and could possibly add credibility to the notion that Stows consciously made concessions to the south when writing the novel. In overt and subtle ways, Stows had consciously attempted to appease the south. Pentatonic also points out that among the white southerners and slave owners featured in the novel, Mrs.. Shelby and Augustine SST. Clare are admirable characters.
The novel’s most evil character, Simon Leggier, is a New Englander from Vermont. Vaccination also points out that Stows has always believed that her novel depicted a favorable side of slavery and the fact that she did so should have appeased the south. However, “in the eyes of most southerners, Stole’s novel was an abomination, utterly false and a full- fledged misinterpretation of the institution of 135). An example from the book of an instance where Stows shows a lighter side of slavery is in SST. Claret’s story of a slave named Gossip. Gossip was once an unruly slave who would constantly run away.
SST. Clare purchases the slave from his brother Alfred. Under the compassionate attention of the new owner, Gossip learns to accept slavery and would rather be a slave than a free man. When SST. Clare gives Gossip his freedom, he rejects and decides to remain a slave. “In rejecting SST. Claret’s offer, Gossip seems to have come to regard slavery as benevolent and being a slave under a caring and paternalistic master preferable to the uncertainties connected with freedom” (Pentatonic 137). Another Critic, Ekberg S. Oliver, explains the fundamental mage of the cabin in the novel.
He discusses the symbolic relationship between the cabin and the family. Oliver believes that the image of the cabin “is a central and dominating metaphor giving form and meaning to the entire The Christian cabin of Uncle Tom is more than just a catchy part of the title, it is the heart and center of the story. The inside of the Cabin that Stows illustrates is a scene of domestic cheer. Oliver points out that when Mrs.. Shelby decides to sell Tom and Harry, ‘the domestic circle and the cabin is broken”(356). Elise flees the through the night and is forced to walk across he icy Ohio river while Tom is sold at auction.
The cabin and home image of Tom’s family circle is paralleled and enforced by a variety of other domestic establishments throughout the novel. “The domestic scenes of the Senator Bird home in Ohio and the Quaker settlement in which the Holidays care for Elise and her reunited family offer the same comforting details of domestic tranquility as did Tom’s”(Oliver 357). “Stows uses the symbolic cabin, the family center, and the family gathered peacefully in that center, as an archetypal judgment upon the broken families and the forces breaking 61).
The novel shows the terrible implications of the family units destruction (Oliver). One critic, Tracey Thornton discusses feminism and the role of women in the novel. The time the novel was written was not only a time of social unrest from slavery, but also because of the women’s rights movement. “Stows speaks to woman’s issues and ultimately, takes a stand on women’s rights and women’s place in society'(Thornton). The biggest concern in the novel is the importance of the women’s duties as mothers. The most sentimental characters in the novels the women who have children.
These omen have an “all-sacrificing, all-loving attitude towards not only their children, but any creature who is weak, and those who have no children do not hold such a sentimental view of children as the center of the worlds” (Thornton). Stows exalts Rachel Hallway and Mrs.. Bird as caring and diligent mothers. Stole’s valuing of maternal values is also apparent with her negative description of Marie who is spoiled and bratty and only cares about her own comfort. Even though Stows highly values the role of women in the home, “she does not allow her female characters to stand within society outside of their private domain.
She empowers women with a huge role influencing society indirectly but not directly. The women’s rights movement at the time was about women changing society directly. Although a strong abolitionist novel, the novel ultimately cannot be considered a feminist novel. (Thornton) The bestseller Uncle Tom’s Cabin is one of the most influential books in American history. Many different critics have discussed its literary qualities and what makes it so influential compared to other similar books of this time. John West illustrates how the virtue of prudence plays such an important role when in the novel.
West points out that prudence in the novel was used to persuade the indifferent population against slavery. Samuel Warren calls Stows a literary genius and compares her work to Charles Dickens’. De Vaccination shows how Stows made some concessions to the south and shows some slavery in its benevolent form but also in a violent form with Simon Leggier. Vaccination however, points out that the south still believed that the novel was an abomination. Ekberg S. Oliver explains that the fundamental image of the cabin is central to the novel. It is the center of the Emily unit and it is broken because of slavery.