Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in order to help bring the plight of southern slave workers into the spotlight in the north, aiding in its abolitionist movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe, in her work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, portrayed slaves as being the most morally correct beings, often times un-humanistically so, while also portraying many whites and slave-owners to be morally wrong in most situations. Stowe created a definite distinction between the morality of slaves and their sympathizers, and those opposed to the abolitionist movement.
The foremost example of the contrast between the slaves and those portrayed as being evil rested in the character of Uncle Tom. A devout Christian, Tom never lost sight of his convictions, staying true to his Christian beliefs until his death. Even when under the harshest conditions, Tom never lost faith, while praying to God and finding ways to keep his faith. After succumbing to the wrath of Simon Legree, Tom was viewed as a martyr by withstanding his doubts and staying firm in his beliefs, ending his own life, while saving those of two others.
The prime example of the group opposed to the idea of abolition was Simon Legree, a Louisiana cotton-plantation owner that brutally beat his slaves, who in nearly all situations, did not deserve the beatings issued. Legree believed in working his slaves until death, and then replacing them, in order to maximize his profit output, his primary goal. Shelby’s decision to sell Tom and Eliza’s son, Harry while Tom was educating Shelby’s son in Christianity showed Shelby’s true intentions and morals. Shelby calmly enjoyed a cigar with Mr. Haley while signing away the lives of two individuals.
Shelby’s wife, Emily, however, greatly detested slavery and was incredibly distraught at the news, trying everything in her power to alter the decision. Upon hearing of Shelby’s plans, Eliza decided to run for the sake of her child, while Tom decided not to. Neither of the two slaves made the decision out of concern for their own welfare, with both risking their safety in their respective choices. Many of Shelby’s slaves on the plantation also risked their safety in accordance to assist Eliza and Harry.
While retrieving the horse to be ridden by Mr. Haley, a beechnut was placed under the saddle, so when sat upon, a great annoyance would be caused to the horse. The two slaves assigned to aid Haley in his search also did their part to help the fleeing mother and child by leading him across stray paths that they didn’t think Eliza and Harry would have traveled. Through this aid, Eliza was able to cross the half-frozen Ohio River to safety from the search party, and seek shelter in the home of Senator Bird. Upon Haley’s lost opportunity at capturing the pair, he resorts to the drastic measure of hiring a slave hunter named Loker, who sets out on his quest to capture his bounty.
Meanwhile, Tom was taken from his home by Haley, after telling his wife to trust in God and to never lose faith. Tom was led away by Haley in handcuffs, an act which wasn’t required, but was done by Haley out of his dislike toward slaves. Along the way, Tom is forced to sleep in a jail cell in an overnight stay, an act which shamed the dignity of this honest and abiding man, before boarding a ship to be taken to the slave market. On this boat, Tom met a little girl named Eva, and the two quickly became friends. One day aboard the ship, Eva fell overboard, and Tom spared no thought at leaping over to save her.
This great deed proved Tom’s good moral qualities, and led Eva’s father, Augustine St. Clare, a man that showed compassion towards slaves, to buy him. Marie, Augustine’s wife, however, disproved heavily of allowing slaves to have many rights, and complained of them being selfish creatures. Eva was nearly the opposite of her mother, nearly mirroring Tom’s morals with her caring, understanding, and not discriminatory to others, showing equal love to all. Tom didn’t keep his beliefs to himself, as he attempted to help St. Clare battle his addiction to the “demon drink” of alcohol.
A similar method of help was also extended to Prue, a slave selling hot rolls, although she did not heed the advice, and was whipped to death by her master, which greatly discouraged Tom. Meanwhile on Mr. Shelby’s farm, a letter received by Tom’s wife from Tom brought about strong feelings from Mrs. Shelby and Tom’s wife to attempt to buy back Tom, despite Mr. Shelby’s gaining debts. During a visit from St. Clare’s brother, Eva and Henrique, the son of St. Clare’s brother, enjoyed playing together, until Henrique struck one of his slaves, alleging that the horse was dusty.
Eva asked Henrique why he would do such an awful act, and Henrique responded with unknowingness, giving the slave money to buy candy, and promising to be kinder to his slaves at her request. Eva’s health, though, soon faded. Pleading with a formerly un-teachable slave to be more open to learning, Eva compelled the fact that she loved her, changing the slave girl’s ways. On her deathbed, Eva compelled her father to find Christ, and gave the slaves a lock of her hair each. Eva died with her strong convictions still intact.
At St. Clare’s request, Tom prayed on behalf of him, which aided in adding an awakening of faith inside St. Clare. At an aid’s request, St. Clare provided for the slave girl whom Eva had compelled to change to be freed and go north, and claimed that provisions for his other slaves would be made in due time. Shortly after, caught in a brawl at a cafe, St. Clare was stabbed, and shortly after died before providing a document freeing his slaves. Marie, claiming that life for slaves outside of the system is worse than that within, sends her slaves to sell in the slave warehouse. Tom was bought, along with three other slaves, by Simon Legree, a Louisiana cotton farmer whose primary goal was making a profit.
Chaining the slaves by hands and feet, Legree stripped them of all that they owned, although Legree missed the bible hidden in Tom’s pocket. Finding a hymnbook, Legree iterated the fact that religion was disallowed on the plantation. Legree’s moral stature contained many of the worst qualities possible. Tom met a slave that he had originally met in the warehouse, Emmeline, who was being tragically bought to replace the aging sex-slave of Legree, Cassy. One day in the field, Tom observed a woman struggling with her work, and was aided by Tom.
When Tom and the others brought in their baskets, Legree ordered Tom to whip the woman, which Tom refused to do. Standing by his morals, Tom was whipped and nearly beaten to death, sacrificing his body for another’s. While being healed by Cassy, Tom, even in his weakened state, preached his Christian know-how and told Cassy to not let Legree’s wickedness affect her. After one of the overseers found the lock of Eva’s hair around Tom’s neck, Tom refused to get on his knees in front of Legree to receive a whipping. Tom risked receiving an even harsher punishment to stand up for his beliefs and to not submit to Legree.
In the middle of one night, Cassy came to Tom’s cabin with the intention of killing Legree, who had fallen asleep after drinking a bit too much brandy. Tom flatly refused the offer, referring to his Christian morals, and instead urged to her to attempt an escape. Cassy and Emmeline thought of a plan to pretend to run away, while returning and pretending to be ghosts, a fear of which Legree held. Once the “ghost plan” of the two came into fruition, Legree demanded to know what became of them. Tom, stating he’d rather die than tell, was brutally whipped by Legree and his overseers for days and was left for dead.
On his deathbed, George Shelby, son of Mr. Shelby, came to attempt to buy Tom’s freedom. While dying, Tom retained no ill wishes for anyone: not even Legree, hoping that he would find God, and looking forward to the eternal kingdom that awaited him. Throughout Tom’s journey from the Shelby farm to his death on Legree’s farm, many of the slaves and sympathizers held incredibly high morality levels, while many of their non-supporters displayed acts of cruelty and hatred. There was often a deep contrast between these two classes, with both containing prime examples of what is morally wrong and right.