How is the theme of good Christianity vs bad Christianity developed through the characterizations in Uncle Tom's Cabin?provide textual evidene

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Stowe is astute enough to understand that some of the worst perpetrators of slavery at the time are those who posit themselves as very religious.  In this, Stowe is able to draw the line between those who say they practice religious tenets and those who actually embody religious principles and ideals.  It is for this reason that the vision of "good Christianity" is present in Tom, the slave, while Legree and other slaveowners like him represent the "bad Christian" element.  Stowe creates Simon as the embodiment of this false or phony notion of Christianity because of how he views himself and power.  Simon views himself as the ultimate authority force, supplanting even that of God.  In this characterization, Stowe is making the argument that slaveowners who profess to believe in Christianity are much the same in that the institution of slavery places human being over human being, and devalues a Christian ideal of the divine.  In contrast, Tom represents the "good" notion of Christianity in a variety of ways.  Despite all he endures, his faith is what enables him to persevere and continue on the path towards salvation.  His death is highly martyr- like, and something that represents the Christian aim of how an individual can rise to be something more than mortal.  Tom's constant suffering at the hands of another and enduring it while placing his faith in higher notions of salvation are Christian, suggesting that a slave is more capable of embodying Christian ideals than those who might claim to be "Christian."  Stowe's use of characterization, being from a devout background herself, would have to be deliberate in trying to bring out hypocrisy and the notion that slavery has to end on both political and spiritual grounds.

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