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1/3 of Uncle Tom's Cabin Synthesis

Essay by review  •  January 1, 2011  •  Essay  •  916 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,538 Views

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Human cruelty

Human cruelty was constantly present during the antebellum period. It is a vital part of America’s culture and it must be reiterated to new generations. In the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe recaps human cruelty through portraying the alteration in Mr. Shelby, affects the readers’ emotions by displaying views from various characters and demonstrates continuous separation of families during the antebellum period.

Mr. Shelby’s dynamic character is constantly modified in the first third of the book. In the beginning of the novel he is depicted as a protagonist due to the absence of the real protagonist, Uncle Tom, whose character is introduced in the later stages of the novel. Stowe illustrates him as a noble man by stating, “Mr. Shelby had the appearance of a gentleman” (2). This is one of the first lines in the novel and it abets the reader to envision him as fine, respectable person. Establishing him as a positive person at the start of the novel is vital for the plot of the story, (as) because later on in the book Stowe displays the dramatic negative changes in Mr. Shelby that come to him (due to his involvement in a slave trade) because he is involved in a slave trade. The author also establishes Mr. Haley as the antagonist at the commencement of the novel by introducing Haley’s foul dialect. Mr. Haley frequently says “nigger” (2) and mispronounces words as “valeyable” (2). Stowe utilizes this technique for the purpose of contrasting Mr. Haley to Mr. Shelby and further confirming that Mr. Shelby is a positive character. As the novel develops Mr. Shelby transforms into a shameless person. After a lengthy conversation with his wife he states, “I have agreed to sell Tom and Harry both; and I don’t know why I am to be rated as if I were a monster for doing what everyone does every day” (41). This statement portrays Shelby’s bemused state of mind. He is no longer the noble man he used to be. He does not seem to feel ignominious about dealing Tom and Harry’s lives away.

The author also utilizes Mr. Shelby and other characters to display diverse views about life during the antebellum period, therefore, impacting the readers’ emotions. The most notable instance that alternates one’s feelings to melancholy is Stowe’s description of Mr. and Mrs Shelby’s feelings after a spiteful conversation with Mr. Haley. “Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings” (71). The author attempts to compare the Shelbys to slaves because they do not possess freedom. Even though the Shelbys do not want to be around the trader, they are forced to accommodate him. This displays the truly malevolent world during the times of slavery. Another instance that affects the readers’ feelings is the numerous filial relationships that are present. The most vital relationship is that of Harry and Eliza. Stowe exposes this strong bond between a child and mother at the start of the novel when she states, “There needed only a glance from the child [Harry] to her [Eliza] to identify her as its mother” (4). This statement demonstrates

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