Heroes Can Be Women
It is interesting that this essay would cover the heroic roles played by different women in Uncle Tom’s Cabin since Stowe is a woman. It is said that when President Lincoln met Stowe that he said, “So this is the woman who made this war. ” I do not know how that affected the author, but I would have felt a sigh of relief because, even though a lot of people died in the civil war a lot more were freed and allowed to live their own lives.
This is not to say that life did not become difficult for the African American slaves due to lack of education and other aspects of life they were denied as slaves, but knowing about the freedom experienced by all people in America is still the main reason immigrants come to make America their home. There are a lot of heroic stories to tell concerning people from foreign lands coming to America and surviving in this new world, but this essay is going to focus on the women in Stowe’s novel and in what way they were heroes. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a woman of enormous passion for the wrongs perpetrated
upon minorities. Though they weren’t known as that back then, she was as determined as a woman could be to get the message of freedom across to as many people as she could get to listen. It is not without purpose that the heroes in this story are predominantly women. Uncle Tom is certainly the main character, and even though he dies before the end of the story, he still carries the crux of the message which is genuine love for people—no matter their race. Though there was a gulf between them, Tom and Shelby looked after the other’s welfare.
Shelby would intervene in Tom’s life when he knew Tom was facing hardship because he was black, and Tom would do anything he could for Shelby as a respectable man. Stowe is also clever in her portrayal of women heroes. She introduces two women characters that are a scratching on the chalkboard in comparison to the other women in the book. Ophelia, who wants nothing to do with religion and really doesn’t care about anyone but herself until her encounter with Eva, and even then she is left off with only a faint twinge of care showing in her character.
Then there is Marie. This woman plays a significant role in the story in that she is a white woman who is depicted as being lower on the social ladder than black women are. This throws a real monkey wrench into the mix as the women up to this point, excluding Ophelia, are all morally suited for Stowe’s role of women in the book. Stowe is purposely doing this to both add a little flavor to the book, maybe to hook the reader a little more, and to show herself fair in her assumptions that all women are morally good people. The first heroic woman is Eliza Harris.
She is married to George Harris who is a slave on another plantation nearby. She has a son, Harry who has just been sold to a slave trader to compensate debt that his owner has incurred. Eliza has decided to flee to Canada because she had already lost two children and loves her son very much. She will do anything to keep him. As is clear throughout the book, heroism is largely defined by the moral character of the women heroes. There is some symbolism in the heroic acts done by these women and Eliza’s act of heroism is one of the most profound.
Her role as protector and healer of her family is never better portrayed as when she leaps across the Ohio River. All of this heroism is prompted by her husband George, who has just been told that his intelligence would not bring him anything but heartache. George’s master is a jealous man by nature, but when George invents a machine to help clean hemp at the plant where his master has allowed him to work he becomes insanely jealous and pulls him back to the farm, and for all intensive purposes, tries to end his life.
It has often been said if you take away a man’s dream, you take away his reason for living. George felt this through and through. Upon his next opportunity to speak with his wife, he tells her of his plan to go to Canada. This starts the heroic actions of Eliza whose fervor was also increased by the conversation she overheard concerning the sale of Harry and Tom. She packs a few clothing items and takes her son and sneaks out while no one is looking for her.
She stops at Uncle Tom’s cabin to tell Tom of his fate and heads out on the adventure of a lifetime. It should be interjected here that Mrs. Shelby plays the hero discretely when she advises Sam and Andy to not get in too much of a hurry as to allow Eliza and Harry a good head start. She also realizes in her heart that slavery is wrong and God would not look on this with pleasure. It was not the slavery in and of itself that turned Mrs. Shelby into a compassionate person, but the way in which these slaves were treated.
She abhorred the selling of any human as a piece of property and uses her wifely influence on her husband to help lessen the burden of being a slave in their home. The act of stalling Sam and Andy to give Eliza time to get away proves to be the preface of one of the most startling things that happens in Eliza’s life. The narrator describes her actions as something driven by her maternal instincts and that before Eliza knew what was going on she was being helped up the bank on the Ohio side of the Ohio River.Sample Essay of Masterpapers.com