Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin


Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Themes and Colors
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Uncle Tom's Cabin, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Slavery and Race

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in order to demonstrate the “living dramatic reality” of slavery. The novel protests the horrors of this institution: the way it degrades black men and women and gives absolute power to slaveowners and thereby corrupts them. The novel portrays and explores various “kinds” of slavery. The Shelbys treat Uncle Tom and other slaves as part of a separate, “childlike” addition to the family. Augustine St. Clare allows his…

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Christianity and Christian Charity

Uncle Tom's Cabin repeatedly references the Bible, especially the New Testament. The dominant morality of the United States is, according to Beecher Stowe, a Christian one, and slavery is utterly incompatible with it. Uncle Tom owns only one book—the Bible—and is often found reading it, slowly and with great religious feeling. He quotes the Bible to educate Eva, Cassy, and others, and to find the strength to survive his own trials. The Quakers…

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Uncle Tom's Cabin contains numerous strong female characters. The social role and importance of women, both white and black, is emphasized throughout the novel, and female characters are often linked by interaction and influence. Eva is fair-skinned and beautiful, generous, deeply religious, and always kind; she becomes an example to the uneducated, “heathenish” Topsy. After Eva's death, Topsy grows (with Miss Ophelia's help) into a Christian woman. Miss Ophelia herself believes in duty as…

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Uncle Tom's cabin, described early in the novel, represents the warmth and love of family life. It is a place Tom hearkens back to over the course of his trials. George Shelby wishes to bring Tom home, and at the close of the book, he points to Tom's cabin as a symbol of honest work and Christian faith. Other homes are juxtaposed with the cabin. The Shelby estate is genteel and placid, though disrupted upon…

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Freedom is a central and complex concept in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Slaves wish to be free, and abolitionists in the novel wish also to free the slaves. But, as St. Clare points out, what is to be done after the abolition of slavery? Is it enough simply to release the slaves, to let them do as they wish?

George Harris argues for the colonization of Liberia by freed slaves. Many thought this a viable…

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