In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the wrongness of slavery is just one of the many underlying themes. Themes often shift from one to another, from the immorality of slavery to the faith in god, most of the story, however, is based on the evil of slavery. Slavery should not be tolerated anywhere in the world. Stowe shows the injustice of slavery through the horrors of the slaves' lives. The slaves are often abused in many unimaginable ways. Stowe uses several writing techniques to get the point, slavery is immoral, across the reader's mind, including characterization and symbols. She uses her characters to touch and draw every possible emotion from the reader. The emotions range from abhorrence to a deep love. She still makes it very clear that slavery is wrong in any and every way, even if the masters are `good masters'.
To understand this story fully, you must understand the characters.
Mr. Shelby is the `kinder' slave owner, but Stowe makes it clear that all slavery is evil. This character shows that most men are basically good, but they have been brainwashed to believe that blacks are inferior and even the `good' whites cannot perceive this any differently. Uncle Tom, the protagonist, is supposed to draw poignant emotions from the reader with his Christ-like figure and attitude. Eva St. Clare symbolizes the angel that watches over the slaves. Eva's early death deeply draws out the reader's emotions towards her. Simon Legree, the antagonist, whom is the one Stowe directs all of the reader's hatred towards. Stowe uses this character to fire up one's hatred for slave-owners and the entire idea of slavery. All of Stowe's characters play an important role in getting the message of the evils of slavery across the reader's mind.
Stowe tells the story using two plots, one focusing on Uncle Tom, and the other on Eliza and Harry. These two viewpoints are completely different. Tom is a loyal slave, whose owners is in a deep debt and must sell slaves to pay off the debt. Tom has the option of running away, but being the loyal slave that he is, he decides not to. He knows that if he runs away, his owner, Mr. Shelby will be forced to sell the other slaves. Eliza on the other hand, does what she must do, escape to Canada with her son. Eliza would eventually get there with the help of the Quaker network, at the same time, being reunited with her husband, George. Tom's journey is not filled with such fortunate acquaintances. He is bought by a nice man, Mr. St. Clare, after saving his daughter, Eva. Eva has a great impact on the life of Tom and the other characters in the novel with her angelic qualities. These two are what you may call, `good masters'. They are very kind to the slaves, as opposed to the Eva's mother, whom loathe the slaves. Upon Eva's death, Mr. St. Clare promises to free all the slaves. Unfortunately, Mr. St. Clare dies a few days later in a tragic accident. Tom and the other slaves are now in the hands of the slave-hating wife, Maria. She always hated the slaves and thought that her husband treated them too nicely, so when she gets this opportunity, she vows to teach them a lesson, and she sells them down the river. It is here that Tom's life takes a turn for the worst. He is bought by an evil man, Simon Legree, who prides himself on being able to `break' all of his slaves.
It is humans like Simon Legree who give slavery a bad name. He views slaves as merely objects and no fellow human beings like himself. He sexually abuses some of his slaves, and physically abuses his others. Simon treats his slaves like maggots below the dirt. Tom, with his standing Christian morals, does nothing to retaliate. Tom believes that getting equal with them would do nothing more than bring yourself down to their level. Legree discovers that Tom's caring sense of nature could be used to his advantage. He begins to threaten the other slaves, but Tom would not break. Tom soon accepts his place in this world, he starts to become his Christ-like figure. He would help the other slaves in the plantation by giving them cotton at the expense of his own. The story take an extreme turn when Casey and Emmeline escape. Tom refuses to tell Simon the whereabouts of the two, so he is beaten again, but this time, he does not recover.
Slavery is wrong no matter what the owners are like, the `good' owners are just hypocrites. The slave owners, as kind as they could be and as Christian as they thought they were, still viewed the blacks as an inferior race. The majority of the people believed that the North is innocent of slavery. While most did not own slaves, but most did not oppose it either.