Unabridged English value reproduction of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Written by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe in response to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, the book was the most popular novel of the 1800’s.
A fable based in reality, it dramatizes the plight of slaves through many memorable and idealized characters.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, through its millions of copies sold, was influential in turning public opinion against slavery in in the United States and Britain.
Read this inspirational tale in this slim volume with full text and footnotes at an affordable price.
About the Author
Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was born in Litchfield, CT.
Date of Birth:June 14, 1811
Date of Death:July 1, 1896
Place of Birth:Litchfield, Connecticut
Place of Death:Hartford, Connecticut
Read an Excerpt
Uncle Tom's Cabin
By Harriet Beecher Stowe
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity
LATE IN THE AFTERNOON of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P——, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.
For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors, attached to it,—which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray's Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.
His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.
"That is the way I should arrange the matter," said Mr. Shelby.
"I can't make trade that way—I positively can't, Mr. Shelby," said the other, holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.
"Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum anywhere,—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock."
"You mean honest, as niggers go," said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.
"No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I've trusted him, since then, with everything I have,—money, house, horses,—and let him come and go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything."
"Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers Shelby," said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, "but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans—'t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake."
"Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had," rejoined the other. "Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you, because I think you're a Christian—I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—Tom, why don't you make tracks for Canada?' 'Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn't,'—they told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."
"Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep,—just a little, you know, to swear by, as 't were," said the trader, jocularly; "and, then, I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard." The trader sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.
"Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?" said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.
"Well, haven't you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?"
"Hum!—none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact."
Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being petted and noticed by his master.
"Hulloa, Jim Crow!" said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him, "pick that up, now!"
The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.
"Come here, Jim Crow," said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.
"Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing." The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the music.
"Bravo!" said Haley, throwing him a quarter of an orange.
"Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism," said his master.
Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the appearance of deformity and distortion, as, with his back humped up, and his master's stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room, his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an old man.
Both gentlemen laughed uproariously.
"Now, Jim," said his master, "show us how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm." The boy drew his chubby face down to a formidable length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through his nose, with imperturbable gravity.
"Hurrah! bravo! what a young 'un!" said Haley; "that chap's a case, I'll promise. Tell you what," said he, suddenly clapping his hand on Mr. Shelby's shoulder, "fling in that chap, and I'll settle the business—I will. Come, now, if that ain't doing the thing up about the rightest!"
At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.
There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify her as its mother. There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded shape;—a delicately formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not escape the quick eye of the trader, well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article.
"Well, Eliza?" said her master, as she stopped and looked hesitatingly at him.
"I was looking for Harry, please, sir;" and the boy bounded toward her, showing his spoils, which he had gathered in the skirt of his robe.
"Well, take him away then," said Mr. Shelby; and hastily she withdrew, carrying the child on her arm.
"By Jupiter," said the trader, turning to him in admiration, "there's an article, now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day. I've seen over a thousand, in my day, paid down for gals not a bit handsomer."
"I don't want to make my fortune on her," said Mr. Shelby, dryly; and, seeking to turn the conversation, he uncorked a bottle of fresh wine, and asked his companion's opinion of it.
"Capital, sir,—first chop!" said the trader; then turning, and slapping his hand familiarly on Shelby's shoulder, he added—
"Come, how will you trade about the gal?—what shall I say for her—what'll you take?"
"Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold," said Shelby. "My wife would not part with her for her weight in gold."
"Ay, ay! women always say such things, cause they ha'nt no sort of calculation. Just show 'em how many watches, feathers, and trinkets, one's weight in gold would buy, and that alters the case, I reckon."
"I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of; I say no, and I mean no," said Shelby, decidedly.
"Well, you'll let me have the boy, though," said the trader; "you must own I've come down pretty handsomely for him."
"What on earth can you want with the child?" said Shelby.
"Why, I've got a friend that's going into this yer branch of the business—wants to buy up handsome boys to raise for the market. Fancy articles entirely—sell for waiters, and so on, to rich 'uns, that can pay for handsome 'uns. It sets off one of yer great places—a real handsome boy to open door, wait, and tend. They fetch a good sum; and this little devil is such a comical, musical concern, he's just the article!'
"I would rather not sell him," said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully; "the fact is, sir, I'm a humane man, and I hate to take the boy from his mother, sir."
"O, you do?—La! yes—something of that ar natur. I understand, perfectly. It is mighty onpleasant getting on with women, sometimes, I al'ays hates these yer screechin,' screamin' times. They are mighty onpleasant; but, as I manages business, I generally avoids 'em, sir. Now, what if you get the girl off for a day, or a week, or so; then the thing's done quietly,—all over before she comes home. Your wife might get her some ear-rings, or a new gown, or some such truck, to make up with her."
"I'm afraid not."
"Lor bless ye, yes! These critters ain't like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only manage right. Now, they say," said Haley, assuming a candid and confidential air, "that this kind o' trade is hardening to the feelings; but I never found it so. Fact is, I never could do things up the way some fellers manage the business. I've seen 'em as would pull a woman's child out of her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin' like mad all the time;—very bad policy—damages the article—makes 'em quite unfit for service sometimes. I knew a real handsome gal once, in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o' handling. The fellow that was trading for her didn't want her baby; and she was one of your real high sort, when her blood was up. I tell you, she squeezed up her child in her arms, and talked, and went on real awful. It kinder makes my blood run cold to think of 't; and when they carried off the child, and locked her up, she jest went ravin' mad, and died in a week. Clear waste, sir, of a thousand dollars, just for want of management,—there's where 't is. It's always best to do the humane thing, sir; that's been my experience." And the trader leaned back in his chair, and folded his arm, with an air of virtuous decision, apparently considering himself a second Wilberforce.
The subject appeared to interest the gentleman deeply; for while Mr. Shelby was thoughtfully peeling an orange, Haley broke out afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually driven by the force of truth to say a few words more.
"It don't look well, now, for a feller to be praisin' himself; but I say it jest because it's the truth. I believe I'm reckoned to bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is brought in,—at least, I've been told so; if I have once, I reckon I have a hundred times,—all in good case,—fat and likely, and I lose as few as any man in the business. And I lays it all to my management, sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar of my management."
Mr. Shelby did not know what to say, and so he said, "Indeed!"
"Now, I've been laughed at for my notions, sir, and I've been talked to. They an't pop'lar, and they an't common; but I stuck to 'em, sir; I've stuck to 'em, and realized well on 'em; yes, sir, they have paid their passage, I may say," and the trader laughed at his joke.
There was something so piquant and original in these elucidations of humanity, that Mr. Shelby could not help laughing in company. Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you know humanity comes out in a variety of strange forms now-a-days, and there is no end to the odd things that humane people will say and do.
Mr. Shelby's laugh encouraged the trader to proceed.
"It's strange, now, but I never could beat this into people's heads. Now, there was Tom Loker, my old partner, down in Natchez; he was a clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with niggers,—on principle 't was, you see, for a better hearted feller never broke bread; 't was his system, sir. I used to talk to Tom. 'Why, Tom,' I used to say, 'when your gals takes on and cry, what's the use o' crackin on' 'em over the head, and knockin' on 'em round? It's ridiculous,' says I, 'and don't do no sort o' good. Why, I don't see no harm in their cryin',' says I; 'it's natur,' says I, 'and if natur can't blow off one way, it will another. Besides, Tom,' says I, 'it jest spiles your gals; they get sickly, and down in the mouth; and sometimes they gets ugly,—particular yallow gals do,—and it's the devil and all gettin' on 'em broke in. Now,' says I, 'why can't you kinder coax 'em up, and speak 'em fair? Depend on it, Tom, a little humanity, thrown in along, goes a heap further than all your jawin' and crackin'; and it pays better,' says I, 'depend on 't.' But Tom couldn't get the hang on 't; and he spiled so many for me, that I had to break off with him, though he was a good-hearted fellow, and as fair a business hand as is goin'."
"And do you find your ways of managing do the business better than Tom's?" said Mr. Shelby.
"Why, yes, sir, I may say so. You see, when I any ways can, I takes a leetle care about the onpleasant parts, like selling young uns and that,—get the gals out of the way—out of sight, out of mind, you know,—and when it's clean done, and can't be helped, they naturally gets used to it. 'Tan't, you know, as if it was white folks, that's brought up in the way of 'spectin' to keep their children and wives, and all that. Niggers, you know, that's fetched up properly, ha'n't no kind of 'spectations of no kind; so all these things comes easier."
"I'm afraid mine are not properly brought up, then," said Mr. Shelby.
"S'pose not; you Kentucky folks spile your niggers. You mean well by 'em, but 'tan't no real kindness, arter all. Now, a nigger, you see, what's got to be hacked and tumbled round the world, and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who, 'tan't no kindness to be givin' on him notions and expectations, and bringin' on him up too well, for the rough and tumble comes all the harder on him arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would be quite chop-fallen in a place where some of your plantation niggers would be singing and whooping like all possessed. Every man, you know, Mr. Shelby, naturally thinks well of his own ways; and I think I treat niggers just about as well as it's ever worth while to treat 'em."
"It's a happy thing to be satisfied," said Mr. Shelby, with a slight shrug, and some perceptible feelings of a disagreeable nature.
"Well," said Haley, after they had both silently picked their nuts for a season, "what do you say?"
"I'll think the matter over, and talk with my wife," said Mr. Shelby. "Meantime, Haley, if you want the matter carried on in the quiet way you speak of, you'd best not let your business in this neighborhood be known. It will get out among my boys, and it will not be a particularly quiet business getting away any of my fellows, if they know it, I'll promise you."
"O! certainly, by all means, mum! of course. But I'll tell you. I'm in a devil of a hurry, and shall want to know, as soon as possible, what I may depend on," said he, rising and putting on his overcoat.
Excerpted from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME I 3
CHAPTER I 3
CHAPTER II 8
CHAPTER III 10
CHAPTER IV 12
CHAPTER V 19
CHAPTER VI 23
CHAPTER VII 28
CHAPTER VIII 35
CHAPTER IX 43
CHAPTER X 52
CHAPTER XI 57
CHAPTER XII 64
CHAPTER XIII 74
CHAPTER XIV 78
CHAPTER XV 84
CHAPTER XVI 92
CHAPTER XVII 102
CHAPTER XVIII 111
VOLUME II 121
CHAPTER XIX 121
CHAPTER XX 131
CHAPTER XXI 139
CHAPTER XXII 142
CHAPTER XXIII 146
CHAPTER XXIV 150
CHAPTER XXV 154
CHAPTER XXVI 156
CHAPTER XXVII 164
CHAPTER XXVIII 168
CHAPTER XXIX 176
CHAPTER XXX 180
CHAPTER XXXI 185
CHAPTER XXXII 188
CHAPTER XXXIII 193
CHAPTER XXXIV 197
CHAPTER XXXV 202
CHAPTER XXXVI 206
CHAPTER XXXVII 209
CHAPTER XXXVIII 213
CHAPTER XXXIX 218
CHAPTER XL 224
CHAPTER XLI 227
CHAPTER XLII 231
CHAPTER XLIII 234
CHAPTER XLIV 238
CHAPTER XLV 240
What People are Saying About This
"Allen masterfully elicits an array of Southern dialects for Stowe's variety of characters. His thoughtful, engaged performance creates a memorable audio experience." -AudioFile
Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide for Uncle Tom's Cabin
About the Book
Arthur Shelby is a good man kind and fair but he has fallen into financial difficulties. The only way he can set things right is by selling two of his slaves: the strong and faithful Tom, and Eliza's charming young son. Shelby's decision sets in motion two series of events that are as different as night and day, as both Tom and Eliza are forced to leave the Shelby estate. The journeys they take, and the people they meet along the way, lie at the heart of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a story that served as a searing indictment of the slave system that existed at the time.
- How do the other people on the Shelby estate react to news of the sale of Tom and Harry? What is Mrs. Shelby's objection? How does young "Mas'r George" deal with the news of his friend's departure? How do the other slaves react?
- Many different people help Eliza during her flight Mr. Symmes, the Bird family, the community of Quakers. What similarities and differences are there among all these people? What reasons does each of them give for helping Eliza?
- Much of the dialogue in the book is given over to a debate on the morality of slavery. Most of the slave owners feel that they are "above" the slave traders. Is this true? Why do you think that so many members of the clergy defended slavery?
- Discuss the author's attitude toward her black characters. Do you think this was an acceptable point of view at the time? What do you think would have to be changed if the story were being told today?
- Miss Ophelia's presence in the story allows the author to address Northern attitudes toward blacks. As St. Clare tells her, "You loathe them as you would a snake or a toad, yet you are indignant at their wrongs. You would not have them abused; but you don't want to have anything to do with them yourselves." Is this a fair assessment of Miss Ophelia's feelings? What happens to change her attitude?
- Discuss the death scenes of both Eva and Uncle Tom. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Why do you think that the author devoted so much time to these death scenes?
- Children play a large part in the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin. What do Eva, Topsy, George Shelby, Harry, and Henrique each symbolize? Would the story have been the same if their characters had been adult?
- Trace the route of the Underground Railroad. Find information about some of the major stops, as well as some of the famous "conductors" that helped slaves escape. Also, research what the punishment was for helping the slaves.
- Eliza's escape across the river has always been popular with dramatists and actors. See if you can find examples of this scene being acted out (hint: it figures prominently in the movie The King and I). Perform this scene yourself, and any other scenes you think lend themselves well to performance.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin was very controversial when it was first published, and it's often said to be a contributing factor to the Civil War. Research reactions to the book throughout its history.
- Investigate the institution of slavery. What were the economic factors that supported it? Could slavery have ended without a war?
- Quakers played an important role in the abolitionist movement. How did their beliefs make them particularly well suited for the abolitionist cause?
- A great deal of attention is given in the book to descriptions of food. Find some traditional Southern recipes and try them out.
- Find other books and writings that were important in the fight for civil rights. Compare them to Uncle Tom's Cabin, both in terms of style and historical context.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. I will admit that it wasn't an easy read. But I was determined to finish it anyway. It had so many valuable life lessons that I don't have the space or time to mention them all. I strongly recommend it for christians to read, because we do sometimes forget how to hold on to our faith, when times are bad. I laughed and cried, and I feel so much more enlightened now about faith and love. I hope I'll never forget the teachings in this book.
Uncle Tom's cabin is a very touching story telling the life of a family of slaves. Uncle Tom is the heart of the story working on Mr. Shelbys farm. He has a wife and a son and he even has is own little cabin that Mr. Shelby has supplied him. Tom was happy there and the tought of escaping never crossed his mind. He believed that God put him there for a reason. Writen by Harriet Beecher Stowe, this touching story is unforgettable. The story sets in the south on a slave plantation were the slaves work for their owners and the thought of being sold to a different owner stays with them everyday. Not only does this story talk about the story of time but it is filled with charecters from all walks of life ranging from the runnaway slaves tht tells the struggles they go through and all of the heartache they experiance when the two get seperated. Not only do the slaves suffer but their family does as well. Tom has a son and for the most of his little life he won't understand why his dad has left. For most of Tom's journey through this book he gets traded from owner to owner and finaly gets settled in with an abusive, angered and strict man. Tom still finds away to keep faith and believes that God will light the way. Plus he meets some odd charectors throughout the story like Topsy a daranged and clumsy little slave girl that finds fun in entertaining anyone who will watch. I would recomend this book to everyone and anyone because it teaches you the morals of life and that no matter what always keep faith because Tom never lost hope and he found the light in the most dimmest moments because he knew that God was always on his side protecting him This book is a must read because it has a lot of historical facts and it gives you a glimpse into the eyes of a different race and what they had to experience.
Uncle Tom lives in Kentucky under the kind Shelby family, where he has had the life of ease, even as a slave in America. He's treated with respect, both him and his family. He has helped work the Shelby's land for years. Tom loves the Lord, and serves Him all the days of his life. His heart is set on winning others to Jesus and serving the saved and unsaved. He is joyful. He has everything a slave could ask for. But Shelby has some debts to settle. Tom, the most valuable slave on the plantation, is sold, and sent with a trader named Haley to be sold. It is the beginning of one of the greatest adventures ever put to paper. It is an adventure of sorrow, broken hearts, and a love that is more redeeming than any human love. I was greatly impressed by this book. Before I was finished with it, I read in a curriculum that many writers and publishers were very critical of Stowe's work, that many did (and do) not like it. Even then I wasn't quite sure why, but at the end I was confused. How could anyone dislike this book? Even if the story is too sad for you - how can you not at least see the beauty of the characters and how Stowe formed each sentence? It was all careful, taking one step, one breath at a time. The book was like that. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Methodical, like breathing. And what's the beauty of breathing? It keeps you alive without you even knowing it. In a sense, Uncle Tom's Cabin was like that. Every breath was perfect, I didn't even realize it, but it kept the story going in a way that I will never, ever forget. There isn't much else to say about this story...other than please, I beg you to read this book. I laughed, I cried my eyes out, I went numb with fear and hatred, I was captivated by the love of God. And Tom, the slave who is now free, will always be a hero.
Uncle Tom's Cabin is an eloquent classic that vividly exposes the brutality of slavery. The personality and morals of various characters in the novel really engage one's attention, reflecting the mindsets of individuals from 19th Century Southern Society. Although an extremely long read with an uninteresting plot, the novel's realistic and gruesome account of the lives of slaves will surely astonish and intrigue the reader.
This book is a classic. It is a touching story about what slaves went through. It was even good enough to be put in the movie The King and I. That is what first moved me to read this book. Seriously give this book a try. You wont be disappointed.
I am not religious, but I would call Uncle Tom the quintessential Christian, as far I have been taught. He holds on to forgiving others to the bitter end. This is one of the few ¿must read¿ books around. I think it should be mandatory reading for all youths. IMHO anyone who suggests this is anything but a great read either hasn¿t read the book, didn¿t understand the book or simply doesn¿t have a conscience. Brahma
My title says it all. This book should be on everyone's "must read" book list. While the book is not entirely factual, it is founded on events that actually took place. It paints a rather grim picture of the terrible life of slavery in America. It is amazing to me that we allowed this practice to exist, even though I understand why it was condoned.
I'm horrified and deeply troubled and haunted by the injustices done to poor Uncle Tom. After reading Uncle Tom I am ashamed slavery ever existed in the first place and people could treat others in such a cruel and dehumanzing way. I wont forget this book for as long as I live.
This book is a very nice read. There is a very large amount of characters and it can be hard to remember who's who. But the main characters show multiple sides of their personality, and this book really shows what a good Christian is. Harriet Beecher Stowe does a wonderful job of showing the cruelties of slavery and the diversity of slave owners, ranging from St. Clare to Simon Legree, and the honesty of slaves such as Uncle Tom. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the thoughts about slavery in the 1850's.
When I started to read this book, I was crying as the characters were seperating. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this novel in such a fantastic way that I could actually bond and understand what the characters had to go through. Although most of this book is very sad and depressing, she ties it together with more fortunate events which make the novel seem even more real. I think that Harriet Beecher Stowe is one of the only authors who understands that one novel can not just be only morbid or gleeful, and that if you tie those two feelings together (with some more feelings to one side than another to set the tone), more connection and passion can be felt by the reader. Once you read this fantastic novel, you will be amazed at the real connection you feel with the characters and actual slaves.
A seminal work of the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is also the quintessential sentimental novel. It is both reactionary and political, a call to arms to awaken citizens to the atrocities of the “peculiar institution” of American slavery. By directly addressing the reader in the present tense, Stowe forces the reader to engage in the story and to consider the various characters’ feelings and actions. She also accomplishes this by relying on stereotypes, particularly of the slave characters (Dinah, Mammy, Topsy, Sambo), thereby making them as all-encompassing and as universal as possible while at the same time destroying the myth that they are happily enslaved. Uncle Tom and Eliza are the two main protagonists, and they embody the two plot lines which soon diverge, like the issue of slavery, into north and south, creating a microcosm of the antebellum period of America. Many of the other characters are also forever etched into the literary consciousness, such as Mr. St. Clare, Eva, and Simon Legree. One of the most memorable aspects of the novel is Stowe’s anti-slavery proselytizing through a presentation of the most common arguments used in favor of the “peculiar institution” and a more or less all-encompassing view of its many facets, often accomplished through the dialogue of fringe characters. If there is one overarching theme and point that Stowe is trying to emphasize, it is the role of the law in the slavery issue, and the necessity of abrogating that law. A thesis of sorts that is fictional with a factual basis, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” advocates for a Christian awakening and acknowledgment. As Stowe makes clear, humanity and compassion—fueled by enlightenment—should be the basis for equality. The entirety of the novel and its message is summarized in the last chapter, and it is as prevalent today as it was when it was written. An individual may not be able to accomplish or effect change on his/her own, but when a group of individuals gather together against injustice and allow themselves to be educated and their eyes to be opened to oppression, transformation is possible.
The book that inspired the Civil War. A deep and very accurate tale of life as a slave on plantations.
This was the first classic I ever read aside of those I was forced to read as a child back in middle school. This was a great book!!! Not only does it talk about slavery but also about true Christianity. Very good book to read for those who want to learn more about this dark period and for those who want to learn about Christianity. Many life lessons can be found here. I laughed and cried... Very moving book.
This incredible book opens a window into the seedier side of American slave trade history. Written with compassion and realism Uncle Tom's Cabin exposes the harsh realities of plantation life in the South. Many of the fictional characters and their circumstances were developed by Ms. Stowe from actual individuals. I was engrossed in the character development. Simon Legree is arguably the greatest villain ever penned and Uncle Tom is a gentle soul hard to forget. A great classic well worth reading for many reasons. I would highly recommend it.
Uncle Toms Cabin was truly a great book. Harriet Beecher Stowe aws very articulate in this novel. This book showed how African-Americans struggled during the civil war. I reccomend this book to anybody who likes to read. This book was also deeply religous to me. Also this book showed the mentallity of a rascist. Today many colleges read this book. Many people believe that this book was controversial in the south. People are very impressed with this book.
This classic is a must read for those who have missed this tale of the pain of human suffering in slavery...a pain that must not be forgotton, ever. I enjoyed this book as a 'reading again' experience, as classics such as this always have new meanings and enlightment with each reading. I highly recommend this book!
Cannot believe i had not read this classic before
I’ve observed that persons reading this book fall into one of two categories. The first group consists of individuals having enthusiasm and amazement with a gripping story that vividly describes the horrors of slavery in 19th century America. These folks note that even Abraham Lincoln recognized the importance of this book (based on the apocryphal story of Mr. Lincoln saying to Harriet Stowe words to the effect, ‘So you’re the lady who started this war.’ The book’s historical and social impact can’t be questioned. The other group of readers, which include myself, find the book filled with too many sermons, characters who are like cardboard cut-outs (predictable, one-dimensional), language that is unbelievably stilted and a writing style that can only be characterized as maudlin in the extreme. This group of readers finds the novel to be of great historical importance, but at best tedious to get through. One particularly set of awful chapters describe the death of Little Eva, an angelic little blonde girl who reads the bible, chides her parents for not being more Christian like and describes with anticipation her death after which she’ll be in heaven. Her final request is that locks of her hair be given to her close friends and family, including the slaves. If not for its inclusion in this historically important novel, I would nominate these chapters as entries for competition as the worst literature ever written. It was also hard to believe that, according to the characters in this book, the only persons who could possibly behave in a decent way were God fearing Christians…the rest of them were going to hell. Contrast this with Mark Twain’s writings on slavery which argue that slavery is an intrinsic evil with no need to refer to any religion at all. Remember the scene on a raft in Huckleberry Finn where Huck decides not to write to Jim’s master about helping Jim escape, accepting what the ministers said and concluding “All right, then, I’ll GO to hell” This kind of humanism is entirely missing from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. I give this book high marks for its historical importance, but low marks as a piece of good writing. And would direct readers interested in this period of American history to the novels and essays of Mark Twain.
This book is just as riveting as the first time I read it many years ago. The story of the harsh realities of slavery. Although a hard read at times, the book is well written, and throughly enlightening!!!
Beautifully told story! Powerful!
I never knew that it was such a page turner! About halfway through the pace picked up so that I was avidly reading whenever I had a chance to see if George and Eliza would shake off their trackers, Uncle Tom would make it back to his family, what it would take to make Topsy reform and much more. How about that crazy Cassy, hmm? And poor Emmaline ... would someone save her before Simon Legree got his filthy hands on her? Wow!I never knew that Uncle Tom actually was a Christ-figure, a living saint. No wonder he is misunderstood by so many. They are not getting the whole picture.I never knew that so many sorts of people were represented throughout the book. The language can be rather stilted due to the style of the times but Stowe did a good job showing many different attitudes toward slavery and how people excused themselves under the flimsiest of excuses. One expects the broadly painted very good and very evil owners but not the more shaded in-between characters.It was fascinating toward the end of the book to see where many of the slaves wound up. One could discern what Stowe's ideas of a solution for the slavery problem were and, indeed, it was even more interesting to read her afterward where she discusses it specifically.I thought that Stowe included herself in the book as the maiden aunt from New England who thought she understood the problem until she came up against Topsy who demanded that she put her whole heart and soul into realizing that the slaves were real people. My daughter saw her as Mrs. Shelby, the kindly wife of Uncle Tom's original owner, who as soon as she got a chance absolutely did the right thing.
Uncle Tom's Cabin or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe is the book that started the American Civil War, according to Abraham Lincoln who was only being partially facetious when he first made that comment to the author. Starting a war was not Ms. Stowe's goal when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, but ending slavery in America certainly was. Telling a story, creating a work of art, while important, played a secondary role in her ambitions. The story serves an express purpose, exposing the horrors of slavery in order to bring about its end. So, 150 years after it's initial publication, what does Uncle Tom's Cabin have to offer a 21st century reader?As a historical document, Uncle Tom's Cabin, it must be acknowledge, carries a lot of weight. It was after all, the best selling novel of the 19th century, the second best selling book in the world, second only to the bible. Written as an angry response to the passage of the fugitive slave law, it certainly tapped into the cultural zeitgeist of it's day. Stowe's novel and the wide ranging dramatizations it inspired, some of which were staged before the novel serialization was finished, have entered into the American collective consciousness. (Even Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim referenced the novel; his song "Not Getting Married" includes the line "like Eliza on the ice.") The characters Uncle Tom, Topsy, Eliza, Simon Legree, Little Eva have all taken on a life of their own, often unfortunately so. Stowe's depiction of slavery, while far from comprehensive and probably far from accurate, opened the eyes of contemporary readers, and can still at least raise a few eyebrows today. People tend to forget how horrible things were with the passage of time which makes books like Uncle Tom's Cabin useful reading. But, in the end, is it a good read? The story begins with high melodrama that does not let up until the very end. In the opening chapters, Uncle Tom, though devoted to his master, Mr Shelby, and his master's family, is sold along with young Harry, Eliza's son. Eliza has already lost her husband to a plantation owner who refuses to let her see him, so she takes her young son and runs away before he can be sold soth. Eliza carries her son across a the broken ice that floats down the Ohio River in order to be free. Uncle Tom is sent to the slave markets in New Orleans on a river boat. While on-board he rescues a young girl, Eva, who insists that her father, Mr. St. Clare, buy him so she can have his company. On the St. Clare plantation Uncle Tom and Little Eva win the hearts of just about everyone but Mrs. St. Clare who sells Tom instead of granting him freedom after the deaths of both Eva and her father. Tom then ends up in the hands of Simon Legree who runs a plantation straight out of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Tom's wife, Aunt Cloe, meanwhile, works and saves her money so she can buy Tom's freedom. In the end, Mr. Shelby, Jr. goes to Legree's plantation to buy Tom back only to find he is dying from the severe beating Legree has given him. Back in Canada Eliza, George and their children decide to emigrate to Liberia to start a new life and to bring Christianity to Africa.You can see why so many modern reader's have problems with the novel. It's not that the black characters are realized as less than fully human, it's that they are realized as children. Tom and Little Eva are equals, both portrayed as children in a sentimental Victorian melodrama. Both are devoted to each other and to Christianity as only little childre can be. Both believe that God will save them and that everyone should turn to God and all their problems will be solved. The message of the novel is not just that slavery is wrong, but that turning away from God is wrong. We must end slavery as a means of returning to the path of righteousness that God has set out for us to follow. This path, leads the black characters back to Africa, not as a return to the lives their ancestors left, but as missiona
My 2nd read of this book; the first read was about two decades ago. This time around, the book walloped me so much that for days I could think of nothing else. It is reported that Abe Lincoln remarked to the Harriet that her book was responsible for starting the Civil War. I would have loved to be present at that conversation and observed Beecher's response. What did she say and do after that comment?
I have to admit that I only just read it for the first time. All I can say is that this book is amazing -- and that Harriet Beecher Stowe must have been a genius because of the way she manipulated the story to "preach" for her without preaching.
This is a book everyone has heard of, but few have read. The title has turned into a well know adjective that is intended to be uncomplimentary. It is an uncomfortable book for readers today because some the 19th Century ideas expressed by the characters (including blacks, whites, abolitionists and pro-slavery folks) in the book are frankly not politically correct under today's standards. Literary scholars don't give it high marks because they say it is too emotional, too sentimental, not complex enough, and too overtly religious. However, one can't understand the 19th Century without reading this book. I think this is the second best selling book of the 19th Century after the Bible. This is the book that (it can be argued) caused the the Civil War. I think it should be read and appreciated for the insight it gives into the heart felt emotions of Northerners in reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act that made it a federal crime to assist slaves who had fled from slave states. Another characteristic of this book is its emphasis on the heartbreak consequences of breaking up slave families. The book portrays several examples of the painful anguish caused by children being taken away from mothers. Some have suggested that this book may have never been written if slave owners had not been permitted to break up the family's of slaves by selling them to different owners. The story is painful for 21st Century readers to read even with the knowledge that the conditions described happened over 150 years ago. The book must have been even more unbearable for mid 19th Century readers since it described current happenings. Stowe's writing is clear and easy to read. I recommend it to all.