Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a book about slavery whose main character is a middle-aged slave by the name Tom whose unshakable belief in the Christian religion was not destroyed even when faced with death. The intention of the writer is thought to be shunning slavery. Slavery emerges as one of the major themes of the story. Tom, the story’s main character, is presented as a saintly and dignified slave.
Among the themes that are covered in the story is the role of women and is seen in various characters including Emily Shelby, Eliza, Eva, and Cassy. This paper discusses the important role that women play in society as depicted in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By time this book was published the women’s rights movement had not come to existence. However, the role of women in opposing the evilness of slavery is brought to light through various female characters in the Story. Stowe tends to depict black women to be more courageous than their male counterparts. For example, the courageous decision by Eliza to escape was not for her own good but for fear of losing her only remaining child. The things that mothers can do so that they can protect their children have always seen at the time when the safety and wellbeing of their children are threatened, and this is seen in the decision by Eliza to escape after learning that her masters were planning to sell her son. This is an action that shows that women often show much more courage as compared to men because George, who was Eliza’s husband, did not do anything when it was decided that he was no longer going to work at the factory.
His new owner said, “You needn’t trouble yourself to talk any longer” (Stowe 13), and that was it. As much as this would be a temporal or permanent separation from his family, he did not do anything after his request to be taken back to the factory was turned down. Uncle Tom’s Cabin shows that women have a special way of caring for and protecting the people that they care about than men are able to.
Men might be physically strong but are not as strong-willed as women when it comes to the protection of their loved ones and the people that they care about. In this story, there are women who have shown strong will when it comes to protecting their loved ones and the people they wish well for. It is not only the black women in this story who are strong-willed but also the white ones. For instance, Emily Shelby proves that she has humanity and is strong-willed in her by distracting those who were pursuing Eliza. To Emily, Eliza’s happiness seemed to be more important than the money that they would have fetched by selling her.
The same cannot be said about George Shelby who was not of the idea that Tom should be sold and only sought to know where Tom was when he was already dying. All he could say was, “O, don’t die! It’ll kill me!” (437). Mothers are also depicted as more passionate patents as compared to fathers in this piece of literature. Mothers in this story, including Eliza seem to be willing to go an extra mile so that they can protect the interests of their children. Prue is even forced into alcoholism after being in a situation of helplessness and letting her child starve to death. In this case, she could not live with her failure as a mother to protect her child. The statement, “you mustn’t tell nobody, Prue, she got drunk agin” (227) is an indication that her alcoholism had become a cause of concern.
It is because of her powerlessness that Prue finds herself in a situation where all she can do is drink because she cannot bear the pain of having to lose her child in such a way. Cassy’s act of killing her child because she could not bear the pain witnessing her final child being handed over to another owner might be a result of a clouded judgment as a result of the psychological torture that she had been subjected to after having to see two of his sons sold to slavery. Despite the fact that Cassy’s action would have been extreme, it is agreeably that it was out of passion. This does not mean that the act of killing her third child is recommendable even in the circumstance she was in. As seen in the novel, “Mrs. Shelby was a woman of high class, both intellectually and morally” (10).
This is seen in her actions. The fact that Emily Shelby was willing to stand for the slaves and convince Mr. Shelby not to sell them is an implication of the role that women can play in defending the interests of other people, especially those who lack the ability to talk for themselves. The fact that she cites the relationships that they had developed with the slaves is an indication that she considered them more than just their belonging. If Emily’s behaviors should be taken as just an example, then it can be argued that women often play the role of a moral campus in situations where men are more likely to base their decisions of logic like in the case of Shelby.
The role of women as moral compasses in society is affirmed by Eva’s final wish, which was that all her father’s slaves be released. It is only St. Clare’s who seems to be different from the other women in the novel because she refuses to fulfill the promise that St. Clare had made to release his slaves and instead decides to sell Tom to Simon Legree.As seen in the evidence that has been presented here, the role of women as mothers and protectors of their children is seen throughout the story. Mothers in this novel seem to be willing to do everything to protect their children.
Even Prue who is unable to protect her child from starvation seems to be incapable of living with herself after such a failure. Women are also seen to play the role of moral compasses for the male people around them. This is seen in the extent to which Emily tried to convince her husband: Arthur Shelby not to sell the slave and the role Mrs. Bird plays in changing St. Clare’s legacy. Either way, Stowe tries to show the role played by women during the slavery period that was not played by men.
Men might have made the majority of the decisions in this novel and the historical period in which the story is set, but the role that women played in bringing change by either acting or influencing the people around them cannot be taken for granted.