Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Toms

It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears” (Douglass 15).

Douglass, unlike Uncle Tom or even Eliza, cannot help but wish to be free, because, he says, it is an integral part of his humanity. But in Stowes novel, this urge for freedom is not present in the hearts of Uncle Tom, or in most of the African-American characters. They manifest a hunger for God, and God is shown to frown upon the splitting of families. But the fact that so many slaves risked life and limb to be free, and did not show any sign of the feelings of owing their masters portrayed in the novel, demonstrates how even the author who started the war was limited in her perspective of the realities of black life and black suffering: for accounts of slavery, readers must turn to historical accounts of those individuals who actual lived within the horrifying grip of the institution.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. University of Virginia e-text.

December 2, 2010. http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DouNarr.html

“The history.” Uncle Toms Cabin Historic Site. December 2, 2010


“Josiah Henson.” Social Studies for Kids. December 2, 2010


Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Toms Cabin. University of Virginia e-text.

December 2, 2010. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/StoCabi.html

Tompkins, Jane. “Sentimental Power: Uncle Toms Cabin and the Politics of Literary History.”

In Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860. New York:

Oxford UP, 1985. Pp. 122-146. Available December 2, 2010 at http://web.princeton.edu/sites/english/NEH/TOMPKINS.htm

Vollaro, Daniel R. “Lincoln, Stowe, and the Little Woman/Great War Story: The Making, and Breaking, of a Great American Anecdote.” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

30.1 (2009): 1-30. December 2, 2010


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