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The Evil of Slavery

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    Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author, she wrote the novel” The Uncle Tom’s Cabin ” in 1851 shortly after the Congress passed The Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. At that time north and south were so culturally divided that made them seems like two countries, the novel gave the people in the north about what was happening in the south. Harriet Beecher Stowe explained how this act affected the slaves in her novel; she also mentioned the evil of slavery in her sentences. In” Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, the conflicts between the evil slavery and love of Christianity happened all the time.

    Characters like Tom and Eva represented the nobility of Christian; in contrast, Legree was the embodiment of slavery which did not have any passion to slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe mentioned mainly about how immoral slavery was, but she also asserted that only the power of love could save United States out of institution of evil slavery. Further more, Stowe emphasized the power of women was equal to men, as their love of Christian; women could influence their husbands, brothers and sons to stop the evil slavery. In the beginning chapter of the book, Mr. Shelby and Mr.

    Haley were making a business. Shelby and his families treated their slaves pretty well; their attitudes toward slaves were much better than other slave holders. However, under the pleasure of Haley, Mr. Shelby had to sell Tom and Harry or his whole business would in danger. Harriet Beecher Stowe used relentless irony to expose moral hypocrisies of the slave trade, and Shelby was exactly this kind of hypocrisies. Although Shelby’s had a good relationship with their slaves; the evil slavery still torn two families apart in such condition. When Mr. Shelby told Mrs.

    Shelby the truth in the night before Haley came to collect Tom and Harry, Mrs. Shelby started to realize how horrible the slave was. “This is God’s curse on slavery! –a bitter, bitter, most accursed thing! –a curse to the master and a curse to the slave! I was a fool to think I could make anything good out of such a deadly evil,” she said. [1] Mrs. Shelby provided the voice of morality in the conversation between her and Mr. Shelby, and she played as a similar role throughout the whole novel. Stowe did not just expose the evil of the slavery in the first few chapters; she also discussed eminism and religion issues. She believed woman can had great influence on man through religions power, so they could turn their husbands, brothers, father and sons away from evil slavery. As the story went on, Tom was sold by Haley and served under a man called St. Clare. In this family, Tom met Prue who was a slave from down the street; she was drunk and depress when Tom saw her. Although Tom tried to persuade her believing in God and stop drinking, the sordid history of Prue made her hard to believe anything at all.

    Former master of Prue used her to breed children to sell at the slave market. When Prue was sold to her current master, she could finally raise her own child, however, she needed to spend most of her time on watching her sick mistress; away from her baby caused her milk dry out and her master refused to pay for purchased milk, so her baby died of starvation. “I looks like gwine to heaven,” said the woman; “an’t thar where white folks is gwine? S’pose they’d have me thar? I’d rather go to torment, and get away from Mas’r and Missis,” she said. 2] As Tom tried to convince her to find God and get an eternal life in heaven for reward, Prue spoke these words to show how terrible slavery could be. She assumed that if white people were all going to heaven, then she would be required to work for them in her afterlife. Thus, she said that she would go to hell rather than stayed with her master and mistress in the heaven. Stowe used these lines to shock her audiences, which were mostly Christian, with the extreme misery slaves endured.

    Before Prue, all slaves mentioned by Stowe seem to have a decent treatment; the cruelest thing they countered was slave trade between masters. On the other hand, Prue’s life was totally ruined by slavery. She was treated like an animal which breeding child for sale on the slave market. At the end, she had been destroyed morally and psychologically. Stowe wanted to affect the readers on a deeply emotional level by showing them how the institution’s wickedness through Prue’s story. When Uncle Tom came to the plantation of Legree, the real brutal and cruel side of slavery appeared.

    In Legree’s plantation, there was no faith and mercy for slaves. Under Legree’s influence, even slaves would treat each other cruelly. One day, Tom helped a woman to fill a sack and was seen by an overseer. They reported to Legree that slaves started to cooperate with each other, so he ordered Tom to whip that woman; Tom refused and was beaten by other two overseers nearly to death. During this part of the story, Stowe finally torn the mask of gentility off the slave system and showed what could happen when slaves met cruel master. “Well, I’ll soon have that out of you.

    I have none o’ yer bawling, praying singeing niggers on my place; so remember. Now, mind yourself,’ he said with a stamp and a fierce glance of his gray eye, directed at Tom, ‘I’myour church now! You understand,- you’ve got to be as I say. ‘”[3] This quoted showed that master could control everything from slave; from their body to their religion. The fate of slave was mostly depended on the mercy of master, because master has legal claim to slave. Therefore, that was why Miss Ophelia could not stop Marie, wife of St. Clare, to whip or sell her slaves after St. Clare’s death.

    Stowe focused not only on the effect of slavery on slaves, but also on its effect on slave’s owner. The pain which slaves had suffered could not be understood by their master; they could never feel the pain as the slaves did. The system also made humans lost all senses of rights and wrongs; slaves started to abuse other slaves in Legree’s plantation, which mean that cruelty only made people crueler. Stowe’s main point on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was to convince her readers of necessity of ending slavery, so she exposed the horror of Southern slavery repeated in many parts of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She also emphasized the importance of Christianity love in eradication oppression, and worked in her feminist beliefs; showing women as equals to men in intelligence, bravery, and spiritual strength. Thus, Stowe not only mentioned the evil of slavery in the book, but also told the story about the Christian love which revealed the dignity of several characters. As George, Eliza and Harry ran away from Haley, they came to the homes of Quakers. With Quakers’ help, George and his family could escape to Canada soon, however, Tom Locker, the slave hunter, found them and decided to capture them with violence.

    After several conflicts, George and Quakers defeats slave hunters and wounded Tom Locker. Eliza took pity on him and asked Quakers to take care of him until he was healed, thus, Tom Locker abandoned his old cruel way and joined the Quakers after his recovery. This part became the most dramatically section in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, the compare between the escaped slaves’ dignity and the slave hunters’ cruelty. The change of Tom Locker proved that Christian love could have huge influence on evil slavery and it showed people a new light to stop the institution.

    In the whole book, Eva herself was the perfect model of Christian love. Stowe emphasized repeatedly Eva’s perfection, her exemplary Christianity, her true innocence, her angelic nature. If Legree was the demon who represented the cruel of slavery, then Era would be the angel who inspired the slaves. Era loved everyone around her, from the white families she had to the black slaves who served in the house. She loved people who cared about her, like her father and Uncle Tom, but she also loved those who hardly noticed her, like her mother.

    The most important act of her was that she loved slaves which seem unlovable to most masters. “It’s jest no use tryin’ to keep Miss Eva here. she’s got the Lord’s mark in her forehead. ” [4] Eva was Stowe’s perfect image of loving Christian, she love every creature and would help anyone to do anything. As this statement showed, people around her would affect by her faith and believe the God. Stowe used Eva to shape an ideal model which could be a goal for her readers, but there was another female character which was more persuasive for Stowe’s audience. Ophelia St.

    Clare probably was the most complex female in the story. She opposed slavery on a theoretical level, but in her deep mind there was still a prejudice – she did not want them to touch her. When St. Clare put Topsy, one of their slaves, under Ophelia’s care, the increasing contact between her and slave challenged her ideas. At first, Ophelia taught Topsy because she thought it was her duty and reasonability. However, Stowe emphasized that it was impossible to eradicate slavery without love. After Eva death, Ophelia started to treat Topsy with love; she finally loved her as a human being.

    Ophelia’s transformation provided an excellent model for Stowe’s northern readers, who also opposed slavery only on theoretical level. Stowe suggested only love could destroy the evil slavery, and it was not enough if people did not put their true emotion in it. At the final part of the story, the conflict between Legree and Uncle Tom was just like the struggle between evil slavery and Christian value. Tom’s central characteristic in the novel is his religiosity, his strength of faith. Everywhere Tom went, there would have love and faith all over the place.

    He helped people to get out off the shadow of their life by leading them into God’s love, and enhanced hope of salvation. Even when he met Legree who abused him brutally, the faith of Tom never disappeared; instead, Tom strengthen his believes and spread the love of Christ all the time. Stowe emphasized the moral contrast between wicked slaveholder and virtuous slave through Tom and Legree’s story; while Tom’s vision comes as a reward to him for his goodness, soothing and encouraging him, Legree’s vision comes as a punishment, terrifying and warning him. Mas’r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I’d give ye my heart’s blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ’em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. Oh, Mas’r! don’t bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than’t will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but, if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end! ”[5] Tom said these words in chapter forty when Legree tried to beat him.

    He told Legree that he was not begging for his own sake, but for Legree’s; Tom was helping Legree not to fall to the eternal hell and suffered down there forever. Tom explained that if he died, the trouble would be over after his death, however, the damage Legree did to his own soul would lead to his eternal damnation. When Tom was threatening by his oppressor, his first thought was to save the oppressor’s life; his thought totally revealed the words in the Bible”to love your enemy. ” Tom loved Legree, so he already defeated Legree morally.

    At the end, George Shelby came to the plantation and found Tom near death. Tom was so glad to see his “master George” and he died as a contented man. Before Tom’s death, he did not betray his Christian principle, nor escaped from the plantation with Cassy and Emmeline. Tom chose to stay for his duty of slave, further, he tried to convince Legree abandoned all his sin before it was too late. Without question, Uncle Tom was the most important character in the story which totally represented the love of Christ.

    Tom’s death triggered the action which George Shelby freed all his slaves later in the story, and the speech George Shelby to his slaves before setting them free explained the novel’s title. “It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it is possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children.

    Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was. ”[6] When George Shelby saw the cabin, he would remember the moment that Uncle Tom’s was forced to leave his family because of the evil slavery. He used the cabin to remind his slaves about the source of their salvation and freedom, it was because Tom’s sacrifice and his Christian values so the slaves could be free. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became not only the metaphor of the destructive slavery, but also the symbol of Christian love.

    Therefore, the cabin was also represented the important issues of the book- the evil slavery and Christian love. In conclusion, Stowe wanted to show her audiences that only the power of love could end the slavery forever. She also emphasized the moral power of woman through many idealized women who tried to save their morally inferior husbands; Mrs. Shelby was one of the perfect examples. The most important contribution of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to antislavery was that it provided many models for the northern readers, not only men but also women, about the new lights to stop the slavery.

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    The Evil of Slavery. (2017, Jan 22). Retrieved from

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