Uncle Tom's Cabin

Inhumanity and the Slave Family: The Rhetorical Strategies of Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Wells Brown College

Every choice a person makes, every action a person performs, every thought that crosses a person’s mind is influenced by emotion. The strength and intensity of feelings in the decision-making process makes emotional manipulation a powerful tool for persuasive writers. In an attempt to promote abolitionist ideals and convince readers that slavery is unjust and immoral, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and William Wells Brown’s Clotel, Or the President’s Daughter utilize the rhetorical strategy of appealing to pathos. Thus, both authors succeed in exposing the readers to the tragic practice of tearing slave families apart.

In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe demonstrates the common practice of separating slave children from their parents in order to appeal to the emotions of the audience. Although the novel is fictitious, the author provides a quite realistic scenario in which a slaveowner agrees to sell a slave child named Harry to another master, which would rip the boy away from his mother forever. Harry’s mother, Eliza, becomes aware of the trade and dares to escape rather than lose her only surviving child. Stowe narrates Eliza’s journey with descriptive, sorrowful diction:

“If it were your Harry… that were going to be...

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