Fictional narrative often has abilities beyond being able to entertain. It has the power to change history. It can even inspire even the meek and timid into acts of courage. But it also has the power to advance agendas filled with hate. One of the greater uses of fiction’s power is Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the era leading up to the American Civil War, which made a lasting impact for years to come, and hit many different characteristics of nineteenth century American beliefs.
Harriet Beecher Stowe released her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852 and it was immediately controversial. When the book reached southern readers, they were irate. Stowe’s novel was written to confront the basis of the southern way of life and culture. It stirred the pot and controversy rose to the top. Some even clamored for the book and its supporters to be “done away with” before anything bad was to come of them (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center).
For many, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was nothing more than the fanciful illusions and imaginings of a woman determined to sway innocent readers. In fact, the worst offense found in the book was the talk of equality amongst the two races, where whites and blacks were essentially on equal ground (Gossett 57). Southern readers would immediately rise to defend slavery and speak out against the book both in public and private life, determined to keep blacks subservient in the minds of any who read the novel (Gossett 80). While some southerners showed quiet support for it, the overwhelming majority shouted them down.
One would expect that the South did not favor Stowe’s novel because of its anti-slavery content. However, it is also intriguing that at the same time, many Southerners strongly objected to Uncle Tom’s Ca…
Because Stowe was able to so cleanly represent the culture through her writing, Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a sizable consequence in America on the brink of the Civil War. The novel is very emotional and romantic, and with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the reader is habitually brought into the powerful spectacle of social anguish, both today and when the book was first distributed.
Gossett, Thomas F. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and American Culture. Southern Methodist University Press, 1985.
Headle, Barbara, Harvey, Paul, & Michael Larkin. “HUM 3990 Lectures.” University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs. 1 Jan. 2014. Lecture.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.”Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. N.p., 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 18 May 2014. .