Uncle Tom's Cabin

What do you think?

After reading this book I have a question about it, Is Uncle Tom's Cabin overly sentimental? Or is it an emotional powerhouse? Take a stance, and explain yourself thoroughly.

Asked by
Last updated by RossMan #233635
Answers 4
Add Yours
Best Answer

Slavery is and was an emotional issue....... Stowe is passionate about what she she writes, and she definitely attempts to invoke emotion in the reader. Is it a powerhouse? YES! Is it sentimental? Yes. But we see it far differently today than readers would have seen it at the time it was written.

"Stowe spends much of the novel exploring morally ambiguous forms of slavery in order to expose their underlying evil. She has noted the insidious wickedness inherent in even the “benevolent” slavery practiced by otherwise decent men such as Shelby and St. Clare. Now, however, Stowe at last tears the mask of gentility off the slave system and shows what can happen when slaves live with cruel masters. Stowe uses the conversation between Emmeline and her mother to appeal specifically to women with children. Under the slave system, young girls could be purchased to act essentially as prostitutes, and Legree purchases Emmeline with this purpose in mind. In the previous sections, Stowe has approached the theme of slavery with the persuasive niceties of debate. However, in this section, she offers a visceral, emotional appeal against slavery based on the power of shock and moral outrage. If the goodness of Tom has not won the reader over to her position, she hopes that the evil of Legree will have a stronger effect.

In her presentation of Tom’s trials after St. Clare’s death, Stowe makes a point about slavery at large, a point she repeats throughout the book. Namely, a slave’s fate lies at the mercy of his master, and a master’s legal claim on a slave overrides all efforts by others to improve the slave’s welfare. Thus Miss Ophelia can do nothing to stop Marie. Marie can whip the slaves or sell them into further cycles of abuse. Stowe emphasizes the importance of religion and love and their ability to transform the heart, but in this section she does not shy away from the horrific evil that exists in their absence.

Stowe focuses not only on the effect of slavery on slaves but also on its effect on the slaves’ owners. While slavery causes emotional and physical suffering among the slaves that slaveholders can never know, the system also makes human beings lose all sense of right and wrong. This latter effect extends to both the oppressed and the oppressor. Through the story of the Legree plantation, Stowe shows how the system turns slaves against each other—how cruelty makes people crueler. The plantation also lacks all sense of religion. Tom tries to fight against the cruelty, to infuse goodness into this moral void. The only commands he refuses to obey are those that go against his faith; thus in the scene of the beating in Chapter XXXIII, he holds strong. These pages work toward transforming Tom into a martyr-figure. He would rather face a severe beating himself than violate his principles by beating another slave."



So is your view of the book is that it is overly sentimental, or an emotional powerhouse? Jill could you please be clear on what side you took. I think that you took the powerhouse side, right?

I'm taking the powerhouse side. If I'd lived 150 years ago I'd probably find this emotional............ but sentimental..... not really.

Thanks for clearing that up, and for answering my question.

Thanks Jill D