Uncle Tom's Cabin

Non-Traditionally Tragic Mulattas: Defying Notions of Denial and Self-Hate

Inheriting the vices of both the black and white race, traditionally tragic mulatto characters have been comfortably depicted in much of abolitionist literature as intricately, and inextricably, conflicted individuals; miserable and without race “worshipping the whites and despised by them… despising and despised by Negroes.” Fundamentally defying stereotypical notions of self hatred and denial are the Mulatta characters Cassie and Iola. For while both characters do to a degree display a capacity to be analyzed through the conventional tragic Mulatta literary lens, both, to a higher degree, dramatize the eradication of the bulwark that is self-hatred and consequent denial—clearing the way for self-actualization, and subsequent liberation.

The Stereotypical Mulatta, craving nothing more than to find a white lover and then go down, accompanied by slow anguished music, to a tragic end, is defied, most literally, by Iola Leroy. Raised white, Iola cultivates a pro-slavery attitude. One that is quickly overturned post the crude and sudden manner through which the truth of her heritage is exposed. Immediately after having been thrown into slavery, the complicated relationship between the notions of biology and culture surface, Iola...

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