Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet BeecherStowe was a best-seller of its time. It sold over 1,000,000 copies, and for every copy sold, 10 people read the book. The book first appeared in sequels in the anti-slavery periodical The National Era. It set off a controversy and heated debate about the moral consequences of owning slaves. Its publication spurred the anti-slavery movement in America to such an extent that President Lincoln, upon meeting Stowe, jokingly suggested that she started the Civil War.
About the author
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 in Connecticut. She was one of nine children of the famous Puritan preacher and educator Lyman Beecher
The death of her youngest child from cholera motivated Stowe to sympathize with the plight of slave mothers whose children were sold away. Thus was born ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel based on anti –slavery.
Synopsis of the story
The story revolves around Uncle Tom, a slave on the Shelby plantation. He is loved by his owners, their son, and every slave on the property. He lives contentedly with his wife and children in their own cabin until Mr. Shelby, deeply in debt to a slave trader named Haley, agrees to sell Tom and Harry, the child of his wife’s servant Eliza.
Tom is devastated, but he abides by his master’s wish.
Tom is eventually sold to a kindly master named Mr. St. Clare. Tom befriends his new master and especially his young daughter Eva. Fate plays a cruel trick and Eva and her father die tragically. What is Tom’s fate in the hands of Marie, St. Clare’s selfish and unsympathetic wife?
The story moves on as Tom ends up in the hands of Simon Legree, an evil and bitter plantation owner. What befalls Tom? What happens to Harry?
Theme of the story
The story’s underlying theme is anti-slavery and Stowe’s fundamental message is all about why slavery is unchristian, unpatriotic and unwomanly. Uncle Tom’s cabin reflects American culture of that era. The style is dramatic and keeps the reader going till the last page.
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