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 a manifestation of love and Christian charity; she finds slavery repugnant but must learn, through Topsy, to actually interact with blacks. Marie St. Clare, on the other hand, is indulgent, lazy, quick to blame others, and her Christianity is merely performance.
Mammy, Eva's favorite servant, serves as a counterpoint to both—she is boisterous and committed to helping the St. Clare family. Back in Kentucky, Eliza and Mrs. Shelby are paired: both are caring mothers, and when Eliza flees to protect her child, Mrs. Shelby distracts those pursuing her. Cassy and Emmeline also form a kind of mother-daughter relationship as they escape to Canada together, and are eventually reunited with their blood relatives.
Beecher Stowe strongly implies that women are more affected by the horrors of slavery than are men. Black women see their children taken away and can themselves be sold into sexual bondage. White women understand these problems because they have children of their own. Indeed, it is difficult to read the inspiring language of equality and freedom in the novel without applying it to the rights of all women in society, black and white. Many of Stowe’s arguments—about equality before God, the necessities of nonviolence and Christian love—might be extended to a discussion of the place of women in America, where white women also did not at the time have the right to vote.
Women Quotes in Uncle Tom's Cabin
Lor bless ye, yes! These critters an’t like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only manage right.
This is God’s curse on slavery!—a bitter, bitter, most accursed thing!—a curse to the master and a curse to the slave! I was a fool to think I could make anything good out of such a deadly evil.
You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It’s a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I’ll break it, for one, the first time I get a chance . . . .
I know this yer comes kinder hard, at first, Lucy . . . but such a smart, sensible gal as you are, won’t give way to it. You see it’s necessary, and can’t be helped!
It’s we mistresses that are the slaves, down here.
It’s jest no use tryin’ to keep Miss Eva here . . . She’s got the Lord’s mark in her forehead.
Now, I’m principled against emancipating, in any case. Keep a Negro under the care of a master, and he does well enough . . . but set them free, and they get lazy, and won’t work, and take to drinking . . . .