Feminity In Uncle Toms Cabin Essay, Research Paper
Uncle Tom s Cabin
Most readers who have read Harriet Beecher Stowe s novel Uncle Tom s Cabin remember its anti-slavery message. A stronger theme that Stowe implies throughout the story is its pro-Christianity message. However, the strongest message that Stowe sends in her novel is the pro-woman issue.
One way Stowe shows the importance of a woman is when she has the woman influence her husband or son. A woman who influences her husband is Mrs. Bird, the senator s wife. Eliza shows up at her house tired and scared. At first Mr. Bird did not want to her help her because he was against aiding and abetting slaves. Mrs. Bird convinces him to let her come inside the house and help her on her way north. In this case Mrs. Bird has influence over her husband. Another woman who influences the men in her family is Mrs. Shelby. Mrs. Shelby s love for her mulatto slave Eliza is the only reason why Mr. Shelby does not sell her. She also convinces George not to take action into his own hands when Tom is sold, telling him they would buy Tom back as soon as they got the money.
Stowe also empowers women in her novel by making them good mothers or role models to their children. Mrs. Shelby teaches her son George to love and help the slaves. Eliza shows strength as a mother, for she would not let her child be sold, and instead risks her own life trying to run away. Cassy acts as a role model and mother figure to Emmeline who is without her real mother at the Legree plantation. Together they hide in the garret and eventually gain their freedom. Ophelia who becomes a mother figure to Topsy changes Topsy from a girl who stole into a nice Christian child who loves. These examples show the power and influence women have over their children.
Stowe s main character Tom also portrays some feminine qualities. Stowe uses gentleness, kindness and sensitivity as traits for women. Tom has all these traits and therefore is seen as feminine. He is gentle and kind to people, like he is to Eva. He also shows sensitivity when he refuses to escape because he does not want the other slaves to be whipped. St. Clare also said to have feminine characteristics. He shows kindness and sensitivity to Tom when he tells him that he will make Tom a free man.
This novel is full of female characters, mostly, which are good. Almost all of them are or become devout Christians. Eva St. Clare is a perfect example of a sensitive young Christian girl who shows compassion to her family as well as to Tom and the other slaves. Marie is example of a woman who is not considered to be a good person because of her selfish ways. Mainly, the real bad characters that represent evil are men. Simon Legree, Loker and the slave traders are all cruel and insensitive. Sambo and Quimbo are also brutish characters.
All these examples show how Stowe favors women as compared to men. This is a very feminist novel for that reason. Women are shown as kind and gentle. They are also given influential power to a certain extent and this adds to the pro-woman message. Therefore, the pro-woman message is the strongest message in the book because it is shown throughout the book and affects almost every character.