This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Publication Of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

4011 words - 16 pages

The Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, has been widely identified as the most influential American novel in the country’s history. Books have, of course, always had the power to bring about great social change, and the widespread distribution of Uncle Tom’s Cabin gave a vivid image of Southern life, particularly the mistreatment of slaves, to the entire country. While slavery was previously an issue between slaveholders and abolitionists, the moral outrage caused by Uncle Tom’s Cabin went a long way towards bringing the slavery debate to the forefront of the entire American consciousness. Broadly speaking, the book’s success brought the moral conflict to the general public, causing many ordinary citizens to form their own moral judgments, often critical ones, of the nature of slavery, while they previously would have been more apathetic. Here, I will investigate the reaction to and effects of the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, particularly divided into two groups: the scholarly or critical reaction, and the public reaction, including both public opinion of the book and the various derivative works that were created for public consumption. I have researched both portions of this topic through the more modern works of historical analysis, and by examining primary sources reproduced in online collections (with especially heavy use of Railton’s extremely resourceful website, for which I would like to acknowledge my gratitude).

Outside of the Southern region that Uncle Tom’s Cabin criticized, the book immediately received a critical reception “of wild enthusiasm” (Donovan 16) that fully recognized the strong moral weight that was carried in its strong narrative. While the novel at the time may have been mostly viewed as an explication of conditions in the South, the associated moral argument is not merely recognized in historical analysis, but was quite apparent and important to literary critics and analysts of the time.

Donovan describes one critical observation of the 19th century that clashes remarkably with modern observations of both critics and historians. Albion W. Tourgée, a novelist, conducted a study in which he had ex-slaves analyze the accuracy of Stowe’s depictions of slavery. Tourgée concluded through these surveys that, under the standards of the real world, the gentle Uncle Tom was a rhetorically pugnacious figure, who was “unrealistically critical of his masters. Tom spoke out more frankly, the ex-slaves thought, than a real slave would have dared to” (Gossett 362, qtd. Donovan 17). Ironically, both scholarly and popular opinion in modern times hold something of a consensus that Tom’s major weakness was that his Christian martyrdom made him too passive about his plight, possibly even to the point of complicity in slavery. Today, some of us see Tom as too passive to be respected; when the book was released, some saw Tom as too active to be believed.


Find Another Essay On The Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin

3257 words - 13 pages Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin may never be seen as a great literary work, because of its didactic nature, but it will always be known as great literature because of the reflection of the past and the impact on the present. Harriet Beecher Stowe seemed destined to write great protest novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin: her father was Lyman Beecher, a prominent evangelical preacher, and her

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

1383 words - 6 pages In 1962, Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe. According to legend, he said, “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this Great War” (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center). Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a controversial novel written about slavery during the 1800s, sparked many of the feelings that would eventually escalate into causing the bloodiest war America had ever seen. At the start of the novel, Mr. Shelby, a Kentucky plantation

Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a Slavery Novel

1147 words - 5 pages Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a book that brings up and addresses many issues and themes, like: race, religion, femininity, love, suffering, violence, home, and masculinity. But Stowe specifically illustrates the inhumanity and evil of slavery to her mid-19th century readers, for whom slavery was a current and heated political issue. The novel shows not only the misery and the suffering of the slaves themselves, but also the way

Comparing Olaudah Equiano To Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1768 words - 7 pages still heard to this day. Two books of the era that were influential in changing public opinion about slavery are The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written by Himself , published in Britain in 1789 and Uncle Tom’s Cabin , written by a white woman abolitionist named Harriet Beecher Stowe. The first is an account of the author’s life from his capture in Africa to his eventual freedom and

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ideal African-American Citizenship

1026 words - 5 pages Harriet Beecher Stowe in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a vision for what her characters could be if they ever became citizens. Although her hero, Uncle Tom, never gains his freedom, he represents everything Stowe wants for free African-Americans. St. Clare also demonstrates Stowe’s ideas in his discussion with Miss Ophelia and George dreams of what Stowe would have for them as citizens. Stowe stresses the ideas that education, Christianity, and

Gender in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

4423 words - 18 pages Gender in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe achieved what is, clearly, her greatest notoriety for writing the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin between 1851 and 1852. She was radically inspired by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, and managed to write one of the most successful works (if not the most successful work) of abolitionist literature. It is even said that Abraham Lincoln described

The Importance of Uncle Tom's Cabin

2382 words - 10 pages Emily Kalantar Kalantar 1 Professor O’Donnell HCOM 267 April 3, 2014 The Importance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin How one book caused a significant influence in history. Rarely is one work of literature so significant that it has the ability to change a society or cascade it down a path of ruinous conflict. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a work that provided such a catalytic occurrence. To this day, this

The Effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin

878 words - 4 pages and characterization of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  She even goes as far as to credit God with authorship, only allowing herself to be viewed as God's instrument  against the evils of slavery.           Before the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, information regarding the evils of slavery and the treatment of slaves was readily available, but little of this information was read outside

Uncle Tom's Cabin Analyzes Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Discusses major themes, including the evils of slavery

843 words - 3 pages In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the wrongness of slavery is just one of the many underlying themes. Themes often shift from one to another, from the immorality of slavery to the faith in god, most of the story, however, is based on the evil of slavery. Slavery should not be tolerated anywhere in the world. Stowe shows the injustice of slavery through the horrors of the slaves' lives. The slaves are often abused in many unimaginable

The Characters from Uncle Tom's Cabin

643 words - 3 pages husband had only a large library of books and a great deal of learning. In the face of constant financial problems, Harriet discovered that her gift for writing eased the situation. The next sixteen or so years before the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet was kept busy as homemaker, mother to seven, and freelance writer. A collection of Harriet’s short stories, titled The Mayflower, was published in 1843. With the publication of Uncle

An Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin

2975 words - 12 pages and pamphlets, the rest came straight from her own observations of black Cincinnatians with personal experience of slavery. She uses the characters to represent popular ideas of her time, a time when slavery was the biggest issue that people were dealing with.  Uncle Tom's Cabin was an unexpected factor in the dispute between the North and South. The book sold more than 300,000 copies during the first year of publication

Similar Essays

Modern Criticism Of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1393 words - 6 pages Modern Criticism of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin It is extremely difficult for the modern reader to understand and appreciate Uncle Tom’s Cabin because Harriet Beecher Stowe was writing for an audience very different from us. We don’t share the cultural values and myths of Stowe’s time, so her novel doesn’t affect us the way it affected its original readers. For this reason, Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been heavily scrutinized by the modern critic

Cruelty Of Slavery Exposed In Uncle Tom’s Cabin

728 words - 3 pages Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a unique historical fiction novel which portrays life during the American Civil War. In this story, Harriet Beecher Stowe tells the tale of Uncle Tom, along with several other slaves, and their journey through the wretchedness of slavery. She combines ethics, redemption, religion, and prejudice and presents her readers with an immensely powerful book that gives off an awe-inspiring impact

The Novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin Written By Harriet Beecher Stowe

556 words - 2 pages The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe is very fascinating in a sense that it not only reflects a significant period of time in North American history, but it also applies today since racism has not completely disappeared from our society. The fact that Stowe was able to write such a controversial novel at that time is very astonishing. Also, because of context of the novel, it attracts readers from all different

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, By Harriet Beecher Stowe

2373 words - 9 pages Cabin is the light skinned women. These women were beautiful because of their lighter skin, but because of that suffered abuse such as Emmeline, Cassy, and Eliza Harrison. The Harrisons had much lighter skin toned and are portrayed as smarter people that do not always act as slaves thus the reason they wanted to run away. Following the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many plays were produced (without Stowe’s permission) that dramatically