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Uncle Tom’s Cabin Romantic and Realistic
Fiction has three objectives: A. Paint life, reflect life as it is: especially in far-away or exotic places – either good or bad B. Escape from life, we see this today in the romance novels, escapism, like soap operas. C. To make life better or make a statement – stories with a moral
II. Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a realistic novel: Why Stowe chose Realism a. Stowe’s physical descriptions seem quite accurate
c. Author’s use of dialect is convincing 1. Slaves 2. Slave catchers 3. Quakers
d. Critics called the novel sentimental and said it stereotyped African-American characters
a. Assessing the novel’s social agenda: Ape ancestry or just plain sin? Darwinist thought Victorian morality
b. Stowe’s personal mission c. Current historians agree with her assessment of slavery
III. The definition of a good Christian in Uncle Tom’s Cabin a. Little Eva b. Uncle Tom c. What do these good Christians do?
IV. Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a feminist novel; is it? A. Stowe’s Pink and White Tyranny attacked the idea that women should be ornamental and helpless (called a ‘trophy wife’ in 2009)
IV. Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a feminist novel; is it? b. Stowe’s high regard for feminine virtues
IV. Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a feminist novel; is it? c. Women have tremendous influence over men but very little real power
Uncle Tom: the literary Christ-type V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin A. Uncle Tom: the literary Christ-type
V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin B. Marie St. Clare is the typical southern belle: spoiled and self-centered
V.Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin C. Simon Legree is evil personified - he is out to destroy bodies and souls. His name is now an adjective for evil.
V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin D. Sam and Andy are minstrel-type comedians. They provide some comic relief - a common literary device
V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin E. Eliza and Harry (nearly white-skinned) are a typical mother and child
V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin F. Motherhood is the central focus for women
V. Stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin G. George Shelby Jr. is the hope of tomorrow
The Ladies' Companion 1840 "... Unseen, unfelt, she extends her influence far and wide. She is forming the future patriot, statesman, or enemy of his country; more than this, she is sowing the seeds of virtue or vice, which will fit him for Heaven, or for eternal misery. Noble, sublime, is the task of the American mother - - see that it be well performed. ..."
VI. Plots in Uncle Tom’s Cabin A. Uncle Tom’s story a. Bondage Narrative
VI. Plots in Uncle Tom’s Cabin B. George, Eliza, and little Harry a. Freedom Narrative
VI. Plots in Uncle Tom’s Cabin C. Life at St. Clare’s house a. Depicts philosophical questions about slavery
VI. Plots in Uncle Tom’s Cabin D. Legree’s plantation a. Slavery at its ugliest