Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau And The Voices Of The Oppressed

1830 words - 7 pages

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau and the Voices of the Oppressed

     There have been many writers who dedicated much of their work towards representing the voices of the oppressed. Among them are Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry David Thoreau. Although these authors were dedicated to the same cause they approached the subject from their own perspective, reflecting on an issue that was relevant to their position in life. Their literature was used to address, or in some cases attack, problems within society such as race, equality, and gender. The voices of Stowe, and Thoreau were used as an instrument in representing the injustices of those who had no one else to protect them. Oddly enough, this protection was from the very government which declared "equal rights" for all men.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is perhaps best known for her work entitled Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a heart-wrenching story about the treatment and oppression of slaves. Uncle Tom’s Cabin brings to life the evils of slavery and questions the moral and religious values of those who condoned or participated in such a lifestyle. While the factual accuracy of this work has been criticized by advocators of both slavery and abolition it is widely believed that the information contained was drawn from Stowe’s own life experiences (Adams 62). She was the seventh child and youngest daughter in her family. She was only four years old when her mother died, which left the young Harriet Beecher little protection from her "Fatherâs rugged character and doctrinal strictness" (Adams 19). To further complicate matters she was aware that her father preferred she had been a boy. According to Adams, although Stoweâs childhood was not entirely unhappy she would never forget "the neglect she had suffered as a child and as a female. For her there were only fleeting escapes from the righteously harsh rule of a father who did not know his own blighting strength" (Adams 21). Later in life she was bound by the stern discipline of an older sister, and upon her marriage to Calvin Stowe was overcome with poverty, poor health, and the demands of motherhood with a rapidly increasing family. She knew from personal experience what it was like to be oppressed. It was during these years of her life she would learn, and relate to, the sufferings of others. These years of her life may have seemed unbearable at times, but without them she may never have had the courage to speak out for others. All of these emotions were poured out onto the pages of Uncle Tomâs Cabin. It is possible that she could see similarities between the circumstances of her life and that of a slave: neither she nor the slaves were viewed as individuals with rights of their own. Uncle Tomâs Cabin was an assertion for individual rights for slaves and was quite possibly her own declaration of independence. It was in this writing that "her resentment toward the repressive influences in her own life ... attached itself to the symbol of the...

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