In Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, there are many themes intertwined in the novel. These themes include religion, morality, and violence. Morality seemed to stand out as the underlying theme of the story. It shapes the characters and helps develop the book into more than just a classic story.
Uncle Tom's Cabin was originally written to convince Americans
that slavery was evil. The slaves endure horror such as the separation of husbands from wives and mothers from children, overwork, and punishment. Harriet Beecher Stowe shows that slavery destroys the family. Slave mothers lose their children and slavery destroys their soul. It also destroys the soul of those who enforce such horror such as the slave masters and buyers.
Several characters such as Prue, Cassy, and George Harris have been so tortured by society and slavery that they have lost their faith; they no longer believe in God.
Even Tom has to struggle to maintain his faith. Slavery is obviously wrong if it affects so many lives with so many negative effects. Morality is written on every heart and is natural. The Northerners who wanted to abolish slavery had to convince the south of the moral issues surrounding such a trade and business.
Morality includes the beliefs and qualities we value most such as kindness, generosity, and gentleness. These hardly seem attributes that come to mind when the issue of slavery is raised. Also, in the novel, home seems to be the most important place on earth, where people learn to love each other and to love God. Stowe contrasts good homes such as the Shelby plantation, the Birds', the Hallidays', and the Harris' apartment. These are contrasted with bad homes like the St. Clares' and Legree's crumbling plantation. These are homes affected by moral decisions. St. Clare's is a place where the kitchen is in chaos and money is constantly wasted. Neither Tom or George and Eliza have a real home. This is one of the evils of slavery because black people are never at home because they always dread being sold.
Home can mean heaven in Uncle Tom's Cabin. When St. Clare is dying, he tells his doctor that his mind is coming home. When Tom is dying, he lets George Shelby know that the Lord is taking him home, to a better place than Kentucky. Although blacks may lack homes, heaven welcomes them, just like white people.
I believe that morality in this novel raises the question of how one can live morally if the society around he or she is corrupt. Slavery was an evil that poisoned personal relationships. It substituted money for love and good men like Mr. Shelby and St. Clare became responsible for the destruction of families. On the Legree plantation, slavery was murderous and destroyed the soul, an act of the devil. The issue consumed those around it and only the strong willed could defy and stand up to its evil. During this time period, that is how society reacted. The North tried to defy the evils of slavery and focus on the moral issues of it, but the South was still consumed by the evil of money and business.
I take the modern stand that slavery is wrong and any racism is unacceptable. Morality is the core of my beliefs and lifestyle. The choices I make everyday are somehow a reflection of my moral values and limits. Slavery was never right at any point in history and prejudices alive today should be fought against, whether concerning race, ethnic background, homosexuality, religion, or lifestyle. More recently, those from Afganistan background who are living in America are being harassed and tortured. Egocentrism is a consistent blemish to a perfect world. Peace might be obtained and understood throughout the world if we could all base our lives on the same morals and virtues. I believe, in this way, that Uncle Tom's Cabin can be applied to the modern society we live in.