Uncle Tom's Cabin

Gender Roles in Uncle Tom's Cabin College

In considering how Stowe represents gender, it must be foregrounded that men and women inhabited different sectors within nineteenth century American society. Males belonged almost exclusively to a public world of work, whilst females were restricted to a private sphere within the home. Different characteristics that were stereotypically attached to gender- compassion and domesticity in women, and control and chaotic violence in men- can thus be accountable to the different spheres they belonged to. Additionally, we cannot examine how Stowe approaches gender as a singular concept; both masculinity and femininity are challenged through their synthesis with other concepts such as religion and slavery. A person’s gender is thus labelled according to which antithetical sphere their characteristics align most accurately to. Therefore, Stowe does not approach gender biologically, but instead socially in accordance with what is expected of both men and women within society.

Through assumptions within American society of both male and female attributes, Uncle Tom can be seen as “feminine” through not completely fulfilling the expectations of American masculinity. Throughout Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life Among the Lowly, Tom inhabits the...

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