Woman Against Slavery Critical Essays

John Anthony Scott


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In his foreword, Scott expresses his admiration for Stowe, whose contribution, he believes, has been forgotten and whose image has been confused because of the “Tom Shows,” stage versions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that began to appear in 1852. Millions of people in Europe and in the United States saw these shows, which featured black-faced minstrels who tap danced, clowned, and entertained their audiences with melodramatic excerpts from Stowe’s novel. Uncle Tom was often portrayed in such shows as a slow, shuffling buffoon, terrified of his white slavemaster. In contrast, Scott notes, the Uncle Tom of the novel is the moral hero of the story—brave, pure of heart, and true to his beliefs.

Stowe is also used as a model, in a minor theme of Scott’s book, in an attempt to illustrate the suppression of women during the 1850’s. Scott fails to consider, however, that Stowe’s domination by her father might have been largely attributable to the fact that her mother had died when she was still a small girl. (This might also account for the authority that her older sister, Catherine, wielded over her.) Scott indicates that Stowe’s husband initially encouraged her to write her stories but seems to emphasize his later annoyance with her fame and with the crowds that attended them on their travels to promote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Scott fails to show, however, that anyone could inhibit Stowe’s work as a crusader or squelch her increasing...

(The entire section is 441 words.)