Uncle Tom's Cabin Questions and Answers
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin book cover
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How does Stowe's zeal for the subject of anti-slavery and her numerous Biblical references impact her narrative as a whole? How do these references make her seem melodramatic and sentimental?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I don't think that Stowe really cares about the emotional melodrama that emerges from her work.  It seems that Stowe is driven to create a portrait in which slavery is seen as fundamentally antithetical to what is believed in Christian theology.  In the most zealous of manners, Stowe is compelled to display how slavery denies the most basic of Christian thoughts.  In doing so, Stowe is able to construct a work where emotions run over and melodrama results.  For Stowe, the desire is not to create a realistic portrait.  She does not seem to be overtly concerned with the fact that her work might not be perceived as "realistic."  She is more concerned with her work being a depiction of slavery is anti- Christian.  With this as her focus, I think that she is fine with the perception of melodrama that results.  The sentimentality that results only feeds her love of Christianity, which is something upon which she placed primacy.  The references to the Bible and the Christian symbolism that is present are testament to both her faith as well as the idea that she needs to display how slavery denies the essence of Christianity.  While the sentimentality and melodrama become the result of this belief, it is also representative of how Stowe does not necessarily feel that these realities are all that bad.  Their presence indicate and underscore her own religious zeal, critical to her own being and the construction of the novel.

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