Uncle Tom's Cabin

Simon Legree and His Realm of Darkness

'During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens . . . [I] at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher' (317). Edgar Allan Poe's opening sentence in 'The Fall of the House of Usher,' captures a dark, gloomy, mysterious, and desolate aura that characterizes gothic literature. In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe chooses to incorporate similar gothic images in her novel by portraying Simon Legree as a devilish character, and associating him with grotesque images. Her descriptions of Simon and his plantation reflect themes that are often depicted in gothic novels such as disorder, decay, and darkness.

When we first meet Simon Legree, his features depict him as a monster. Stowe describes him as 'short, broad, and muscular' with a 'bullet head,' 'shaggy,' 'hairy,' 'very dirty,' and 'garnished with long nails, in a very foul condition' (334). Here, Stowe does not paint the image of a human, but describes a beast. Stowe's portrayal of Simon as a dirty and claw-like beast becomes very fitting as the novel...

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