Depiction Of The Sinister Realities Of Slavery In Uncle Tom’s Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe

Being able to break free from the manacles of slavery was an astonishing miracle. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe unveiled the terrors and glories that the slaves encountered during their journey of being servants or fleeing for independence. The author’s heartfelt writing about the relentless nature of slavery deeply impacted social attitudes and the United States’ history. Through the power of words, she used this novel as an outlet to inform people of how truly sinister slavery was. Moreover, Stowe combined together two distinguished lives of the Harris family, Eliza and Harry Harris, and of Tom. These captives were all from the same place at the beginning — the home of the merciful Shelby’s. 

In order to clear off some debts, Mr. Shelby sold Harry and Tom off to Haley, a pitiless slave trader. Eliza, Ms. Shelby’s servant, overheard Mr. Shelby talking to Haley about selling the slaves so she took Harry and fled along the Ohio River. George Harris, Eliza’s husband, also decided to escape when his owner refused to loan him to Mr. Wilson, a tenderhearted owner of a factory. The Harris family was hounded by slave catchers hired by Haley, but they subsequently entered the protection of Canada. Instead of escaping, Uncle Tom chose to stay behind to show his commitment to Mr. Shelby. After he was taken by Haley, he was sent on a boat to be sold on the river and serve on a plantation in the South. While on the boat, he became friends with a little white girl named Evangelina St. Clare and also saved her from drowning. Out of appreciation, she asked her father, Augustine St. Clare, to buy him. After a while, Eva passed away from an illness. Before her passing, she asked her father to release Tom. Unfortunately, the mourning father was not able to free Tom because he died before he was able to meet his daughter’s request. Following the two deaths in the St. Clare’s household, the wife sold Tom to Simon Legree, an inhumane slave master. When Tom denied telling Simon where his two other slaves disappeared off to, he was beaten to his death. This novel contained several characters who were interesting from all backgrounds. From frightened slaves to evil slave catchers, Harriet Stowe writes in many perspectives to show how the reality of slavery was. The protagonist, Tom, suffered a great amount being passed along from owner to owner. Even though he was very obedient, his first owners betrayed him when they had to sell him off to a slave trader for extra money. Thankfully, he was bought by a caring man. After serving two kindhearted owners, he had to serve brutal Simon Legree. As an outcome, he died from the torturous beatings of Legree. 

I respect Uncle Tom because he made sure not to say a word about where his fellow slave people ran off to when Simon Legree interrogated him. He only stayed silent to show his loyalty towards his people. He was prepared to receive his punishment from Simon rather than revealing any information. Instead of fighting back when he was getting beat, he said “Mas’r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I’d give ye my heart’s blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ’em freely, as the Lord gave his for me.” He was willing to do anything for his master, even though he was treated so badly. I felt the desperation that Tom must have felt when he mustered up the courage to talk back to his hurtful master. The sincere emotions that he bottled up finally exploded, making him confess his allegiance towards his careless master. In the end, he was seen as a martyr. He died as a loyal companion of his friends that he made along his journey. Eliza was another character that I believed to be very important in the novel. I was able to understand how it was from the point of view of a mother, and the struggles of escaping to freedom for her and her child. Immediately when Eliza heard about Harry getting sold off, she could not bare the thought of having to separate from her beloved son. Fearing of having to separate from her child, Eliza and Harry ran away. The author showed me how brave it was of Eliza to disobey her owners, knowing that people would be sent to come after her. She took the risk so that her family’s lives would be better. Eliza ran along the icy, cold Ohio River in order to reach safety. “The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake; stumbling — leaping — slipping — springing upwards again!”. Jumping from one ice block to another, this amazing woman was willing to go through the frozen waters with “her shoes are gone — her stockings cut from her feet — while blood marked every step). Reading this extremely vivid description of her incredible flee was very admirable. Her strong determination and hard work allowed her to reach the Ohio side. From there, she was able to further run away from the hands of the slave trader, Haley. 

Although Eliza faced many obstacles during her escape, she still looked forward. She never looked back at all. Evangelina St. Clare was a very intriguing character, to say the least. Even as a young child in the oppressive nation, she was able to see that there was no difference between white and black. I was amazed by how she was not even an adult yet, but she was more mature compared to the discriminative slave owners and traders. Eva was a significant part of Uncle Tom. She treated him with respect and like he was a human, unlike other people. Right at the start, she befriended Tom and made sure that he was bought by her father so that he could have a good life. She overlooked the colors of their skins, and only focused on having a great friendship with him. When other people told Eva that she should not treat the slaves with respect, she was hard headed and only did what she believed was right. She made sure that everyone was treated fairly despite the fact that she was the young master. Even during her dying hours, she asked her father “isn’t there any way to have all slaves made free?”. She requested her father to let go of all their slaves, including Tom, so that she could be happy. She knew she was dying, but all she thought about was of other people instead of herself. I was mesmerized by how selfless she was no matter what was going on. It made me wonder why adults in the past did not have the same mindset as Eva. She should have been set as an example for all slave owners, slave traders and many more. 

One final character that I found to be important in the plot was the Arthur Shelby, the slaves’ first owner. I realized how big of a hypocrite he was while reading this novel. He knew how cruel and dehumanizing it was to own slaves and act as a powerful master. It was nice to know that he was a compassionate owner, but the fact that he knew it was wrong and still proceeded to have slaves was wrong. It was understandable that he was going through rough times financially, but that was so betraying of him to have the thought of selling his slaves that he treated with respect. For him to actually sell them was just wrong. It angered me because he just threw away his slaves into the evil world. Two of his slaves had to endure a hard travel to get to Canada, while the other one suffered an abusive and fearful owner. This novel is related to the course because slavery was a huge part of the United States’ history. I was able to learn about the hardships of slaves in their perspective, and see how they were treated amongst different types of owners. 

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” led the readers through a mind-opening and deep path. It showed how inhumane slavery, from the slaves running away from terrifying slave catchers to one getting abused by their ungrateful owner. Harriet Butcher Stowe made sure to show how slavery was really like by writing in the eyes of slaves. She led readers through an emotional ride of desperation, preservation, and appeasement. 

09 March 2021
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