Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Uncle Tom, a slave. Although he is good and unrebellious, he is sold by his owner. After serving a second kind but improvident master, he comes under the ownership of brutal Simon Legree and dies as a result of his beatings.
Eliza, a slave. Learning that her child is about to be sold away along with Tom, she takes the child and runs away, crossing the Ohio River by leaping from floating ice cake to floating ice cake.
George Harris, her husband, a slave on a neighboring plantation. He also escapes, passing as a Spaniard, and reaches Ohio, where he joins his wife and child. Together, they go to freedom in Canada.
Harry, the child of Eliza and George.
Mr. Shelby, the original owner of Eliza, Harry, and Uncle Tom. Encumbered by debt, he plans to sell a slave to his chief creditor.
Haley, the buyer, a New Orleans slave dealer. He shrewdly selects Uncle Tom and persuades Mr. Shelby to part with Harry in spite of his better feelings.
George Shelby, Mr. Shelby’s son. He promises to buy Tom back one day but arrives at Legree’s plantation as Tom is dying. When his father dies, he frees all his slaves in Uncle Tom’s name.
Mrs. Shelby, Mr. Shelby’s wife. She...
(The entire section is 529 words.)
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Following three slaves and their experiences in and out of slavery, Stowe's novel deals with the effects of slavery on both blacks and whites in the antebellum, or pre- Civil War South. The title character in the book, Tom, is a slave who lives first with the Shelbys of Kentucky, then with the St. Clares of New Orleans, and finally on the plantation of Simon Legree in Louisiana. At the Shelbys, where Tom holds the affectionate name of Uncle Tom, he is married to Chloe, and they have three children. Stowe tried to show in this novel how slaves were capable of creating loving, Christian families, just like free whites. Uncle Tom's cabin is all hearth and family, with Chloe cooking at the stove, the children tumbling about on the floor, and Tom bouncing the baby on his knee. Tom is a converted Christian, and he is looked up to by the other slaves as a religious figure. He succeeds in converting others to his beloved Christianity. At the St. Clares, Tom and little Eva share a powerful belief in God and heaven.
Unfortunately for Tom, his life changes for the worse when his master, Arthur Shelby, decides to sell him. Tom was given to Mr. Shelby when Arthur was a baby; Mr. Shelby is Tom's first master. As the novel opens, Shelby is reluctantly making arrangements to sell Tom to Haley, the slave trader. Shelby is what is known in the world of slavery as "a kind master," and his reluctance to sell Tom reveals him to be "a man of humanity." Mr. Shelby's wife,...
(The entire section is 1670 words.)
Tom is a slave who lives first with the Shelbys of Kentucky, then with the St. Clares of New Orleans, and finally on the plantation of Simon Legree in Louisiana. At the Shelbys', where Tom holds the affectionate name of Uncle Tom, he is married to Chloe, and they have three children. Stowe tried to show in this novel how slaves were capable of creating loving, Christian families, just like free whites. Uncle Tom's Cabin is all hearth and family, with Chloe cooking at the stove, the children tumbling about on the floor, and Tom bouncing the baby on his knee. Tom is a converted Christian, and he is looked up to by the other slaves as a religious figure. He succeeds in converting others to his beloved Christianity. At the St. Clares', Tom and little Eva share a powerful belief in God and heaven.
Tom's faith is put to the ultimate test when he comes under Legree's power: The fiendish Legree vows to corrupt Tom, asking him "'An't I yer master?….An't yer mine, now, body and soul?'", to which Tom replies, "'My soul an't yours, Mas'r!….It's been bought and paid for by one that is able to keep it…'" Legree is unable to disturb Tom's religious convictions.
When Tom dies at the hands of Legree and his henchmen, his death is Christ-like. He forgives his tormentors and converts them even as his blood drips from their hands. Uncle Tom's name has become synonymous in American culture with fawning and flattering behavior, particularly on the part...
(The entire section is 331 words.)
Augustine St. Clare's personal slave, Adolph is something of a dandy. He wears his master's castoff elegant clothing and looks down on slaves whom he thinks are less refined than himself.
See Senator John Bird
Senator John Bird
Senator Bird votes for the Fugitive Slave Law in Congress, for which his wife chastises him. When runaway slave Eliza Harris and her little child Harry come to their house seeking shelter, the senator is moved by her plight and changes his mind about the law, helping her to escape capture.
Mrs. Mary Bird
The usually timid wife of Senator Bird surprises her husband by condemning slavery, arguing that it is un-Christian and anti-family. When Eliza Harris stops at their home in her flight from slavery, the Birds shelter her and help her to escape safely with little Harry.
Misse Cassy is a slave owned by Simon Legree who has been Legree's mistress since she came to his plantation as a young girl. Cassy befriends Tom after he comes to live on Legree's plantation. Strong and dignified in spite of her enslaved state, Cassy calls herself "a lost soul" and tells Tom she does not believe in God. She is angry and bitter about her enslavement. Her two children were taken from her and sold. She killed her third child in its infancy to keep it from growing up in slavery. Cassy...
(The entire section is 2087 words.)