Christianity On Uncle Tom's Cabin Essay

3375 words - 14 pages

It is well known that western literature is based on two pillars--the Greekculture and the Hebrew culture. In the Hebrew culture, there is a book,namely, the Bible that accumulates its rich cultural heritage. Most westernauthors are influenced by those two literary origins consciously or unconsciously.They, without doubt, also influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896),a nineteenth century American female writer. Yet, with her strong religiousbackground, she tended to be influenced deeper by the latter than by theformer. Born into a family of religion, Harriet's father, Lyman Beecherwas one of America's most celebrated clergymen and the principal spokesmanfor Calvinism in the nineteenth century; her mother, was a woman of prayerwho died when Harriet was four years old; her brother, Henry Ward Beecher,was the best known pulpit orator of his times. In 1836, she was marriedto Calvin Stowe, a Biblical scholar. In a word, Harriet Beecher Stowe wasbred, and lived all her life at the atmosphere of Christianity that inevitablyinfluenced her masterpiece Uncle Tom's Cabin.It's commonly agreed that Uncle Tom's Cabin is an anti-slavery novel.In fact, it is for the cause of abolitionism that Mrs. Stowe took up herpen. Yet, anti-slavery spirit is not contradictory or incompatible withspirit of Christianity. In fact, they co-exist quite harmoniously in UncleTom's Cabin. Feminism is also quite evident in this book. Many articleshave been written to discuss the anti-slavery spirit or feminism in it.However, this thesis will mainly focus on Christianity in Uncle Tom's Cabin.I. Northrop Frye's Theory of ArchetypeIn Greek, 'arch' means 'first', 'typos' means 'form' or 'type'. So, 'archetype'means first type/form or original type/form. In the theories of Swiss psychologistCarl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), archetypes are primordial mythic forms thatembody psychological drives and forces that originate in the collectiveunconscious. For the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye (1912-1991),archetypes are the socially-concerned organizing forms and patterns ofliterature that originate in myth and which unify and reveal literatureas an imaginatively-inhabitable world. His great work, such as The SecularScripture (1976), The Great Code (1982) and Words with Power (1990) allcenter on the study of the Bible. In Frye's system, the organizing principlesthat give literature coherence and structure are derived from the archetypalimagery found in the Bible and the myths of ancient Greece. He suggeststhat all literature is based on displacements of these myths. Archetypalcriticism focused on characters, images, symbols, metaphors, plots, eventsand themes1. The thesis attempts to use this theory to analyze the charactersin Uncle Tom's Cabin in terms of Biblical archetype to reveal Christianityin it and to probe into Mrs. Stowe' solution to the institution of slavery.II. Character Analysisi. TomTom, the protagonist of this novel, is obviously the Christ figure withblack skin. Tom's...

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