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The Scarlet Letter

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Mark Sway

English III - Honors

February 26, 2006

The American Spirit

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe deserves an appreciative audience in the light of the revolutionary transformation in American history. It reveals many of the horrors and hardships of slavery that many of the time were ignorant of. The story tells of how a single man, Uncle Tom, sacrifices everything for the good of his people. Uncle Tome's Cabin is very significant towards American history, for it changed many people's perspectives toward slavery. It is said that "[Uncle Tom's Cabin], despite its subject and mode of handling it, has many good points, and we are disposed to do full justice to them" (Uncle Tom's Cabin: A Critical Approach).

Uncle Tom exhibited attributes of an American Hero. One critic states "He is pious, affectionate, brave, honest, intelligent, confiding, humble, -in short, he was composed of every Christian virtue and grace without alloy" (The Edinburgh Review). When Eliza, one of the slave hands of the same plantation of Uncle Tom found out that her son, Harry, was to be sold, she decided she was to run away with Harry as for him not to be sold. When Eliza ran away, Tom knew that he must stay behind to be sold. If he didn't, his master would be forced to sell many other slaves to make up for the debt since Tom was so valuable. Tom easily could have fled, but he stayed strong and remained on the plantation to be sold.

Though Uncle Tom's Cabin is mainly centered on the abolishment of slavery, it is also very propagandist and at times exaggerated. Mostly everybody in the book, for example, is either completely good or completely evil. Uncle Tom, for example, can hardly be called a distorted-Christ image, because there is nothing major distorted about him. A critic states, "Uncle Tom, for instance, is simply perfect" (The Edinburgh review). Many characters are like this. Another critic says "Stowe's slaves were impossibly idealized, that she had portrayed them as if black skin automatically graced them with beauty, nobility, and goodness"(Joyce Moss and George Wilson). This is true for nearly every character. Eliza, for example, also never does anything wrong, since her running away from the plantation is justified as caring for the safety of her child.

Eliza also represents the virtue and goodness of the American Spirit. She is a very caring mother always looking out for her child. When Eliza finds out she is going to be sold, she runs to her boy and says, speaking of herself, that "she's going to put on her little boy's cap and coat and run off with him, so the ugly man can't catch him" (Stowe 41). By doing this, Eliza represents the American spirit in the way that she has put her own life in jeopardy in order to save another. Running away is very risky, but it is a price she is willing to

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