美国文学assignment：Religious Consciousness of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the most important one of Mrs. Stowe’s works. To the collapse of American slavery, this novel made great contribution. Some people even think it changed the process of American history. For a long time, people have done myriad research on the significance of its anti-slavery function. The works of a certain writer are related to the society he lives in and his own background. Social conflicts and her Christian identity urged what Mrs. Stowe want to say with the novel are not only condemning slavery. Behind the obvious themes, she also paid attention to American society and religion. This thesis focuses on the obvious religious consciousness of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. With the application of the renowned Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye’s theory of archetype, this thesis attempts to analyze various characters, like Tom, little Eva, in terms of Biblical archetype. Further more, this thesis will discuss Mrs. Stowe’s reconsideration of American society and her criticism on the southern church.
Keywords: religious consciousness; Christianity; archetype; character
CHAPTER1 INTRODUCTION 1
1.1 Mrs. Stowe’s Life and Her Major Works 1
1.2 The Background of Uncle Tom’s Cabin 2
1.3 A Brief Introduction to the Novel 2
1.4 Literature Review 3
CHAPTER2 THE THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE -NORTHROP FRYE’S THEORY OF ARCHETYPE 5
CHAPTER3 CHARACTERS IN THE NOVEL 7
3.1 Uncle Tom—a True Black Christian, Jesus Christ with Black Skin 7
3.2 Evangeline St. Clare --- an Evangelist, the OnlyTrue White Christian 8
3.3 Sambo, Qimbo and George Harris ---Those Once Lost Souls 9
3.4 Eliza –-the Most Fortunate and Beloved Woman 9
CHAPTER4 MRS. STOWE’S RECONSIDERATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETY AND CRITICISM ON “RELIGION” 11
CHAPTER5 INFLUENCE OF THIS NOVEL 13
5.1 Crisis of Christianity Reflected by the Novel 13
5.2 Its Influence on the Liberation of the Blacks: from Slaves to the President 13
CHAPTER6 CONCLUSION 15
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Mrs. Stowe’s Life and Her Major Works
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811—1896), a 19th century female novelist and abolitionist, was born in a family of religion at Litchfield, Connecticut on the 14th of June 1811. Her father, Lyman Beecher was one of America’s most celebrated clergymen and the principal spokesman for Calvinism in the 19th century. Her father dedicated his life to his religion and to helping others. Her mother was a woman of prayer who died when Harriet was four years old. The community in which she spent her childhood was one of the most intellectual in New England. Stowe received her formal education at Hartford Female Seminary. The school had been opened and operated by Stowe's sister, Catharine Beecher. Stowe was fond of reading and began to write when she was 9 years old. After graduating, Stowe became a teacher at the seminary. In 1832, the Beecher family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Lyman Beecher had accepted a position as president of Lane Theological Seminary. Harriet accompanied her father. While in Cincinnati, she met Calvin Stowe, a professor at the seminary. The two people fell in love and later were married. Naturally, a woman with such dominant Christian background is doomed to be a pious Christian. She had her own deep understanding of the Bible and the Bible or God guided her thoughts and deeds all through her life.#p#分页标题#e#
Without doubt, among Mrs. Stowe’s works the most famous novel was Uncle Tom's Cabin. As a woman of letters, she made great achievements and her works are far more than Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In 1843 she published The Mayflower, a collection of tales and sketches. In Brunswick, Maine, she wrote for serial publication in The National Era, an anti-slavery paper of Washington, DC, the story of "Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly." The publication in book form (1852) was a factor which must be reckoned in summing up the moving causes of the war for the Union. The book sprang into unexampled popularity, and was translated into at least twenty-three languages. Mrs. Stowe used the reputation thus won in promoting a moral and religious enmity to slavery. She reinforced her story with A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1856 she published Dred; a Tale of the Dismal Swamp, in which she threw the weight of her argument on the deterioration of a society resting on a slave basis. The establishment of The Atlantic Monthly in 1857 gave her a constant vehicle for her writings, he wrote ten novels, of which The Minister's Wooing (1859) and Old Town Folks (1869) are the most popular.
Mrs. Stowe other works include The Pearl of Orr's Island (1862), Men of Our Times (1868), Little Pussy Willow (1870), My Wife and I (1871), Pink and White Tyranny (1871), Woman in Sacred History (1873), Palmetto-Leaves (1873), We and Our Neighbors (1875), Poganuc People (1878), The Poor Life (1890).
Among her works, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the greatest and has the highest historical status. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. 
1.2 The Background of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Mrs. Stowe passed eighteen years in Cincinnati under conditions which constantly thrust the problem of human slavery upon her attention. Cincinnati is near Ohio, which still advocated slavery in the 19th century. The two states are only separated by a river. Slaves were continually escaping from their masters, and were harbored, on their way to Canada, by the circle in which Mrs. Stowe lived. Since the middle of 19th century American racial problem became more and more serious. Slavery lied in the central of racial problem. In Cincinnati Mrs. Stowe witnessed many tragedies caused by slavery. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was an immediate cause of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. If this law was put into effect, running slavers should be caught and returned to their “owners”. Nearly all people of Justice adopted various means to fight against the law. Mrs. Stowe was not an exception. As a pious Christian, she treated fighting with slavery as her responsibility and her relatives also encouraged her to “write something to show how evil slavery is”.
Partly, Stowe was inspired to create Uncle Tom's Cabin by the autobiography of Josiah Henson, a black man who lived and worked on a tobacco plantation in North Bethesda, Maryland. Henson escaped slavery in 1830 by fleeing to the Province of Upper Canada (now Ontario), where he helped other fugitive slaves arrive and become self-sufficient, and where he wrote his memoirs. Stowe evidently acknowledged that Henson's writings inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin.  #p#分页标题#e#
In 1851, Uncle Tom's Cabin first appeared as a 40-week serial in National Era, an abolitionist periodical. Because of the story's popularity, the publisher contacted Stowe about turning the serial into a book. The publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (At that time, it was called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin or the Man that Was a Thing”) was a great success. Just in Britain, one million copies were sold. Mrs. Stowe and her book became world-famous. Mrs. Stowe was equal to the spokeswoman of anti-slavery force. This novel also greatly promoted the liberation of slavers and speeded up the collapse of slavery. Even President Abraham Lincoln is said to have remarked when meeting Mrs. Stowe for the first time in the White House “So you are the little woman who started this Great War!”
1.3 A Brief Introduction to the Novel
Tom was a slave of Mr. Shelby who was a slaveholder in Kentucky. Once Mr. Shelby was encumbered by debt, he decided to sell Tom and another female slave and her son. Knowing the news, Eliza and her son ran away immediately but Tom would stay to be sold to Haley－ a slaver. As a result, he was sold to New Orleans by Haley.
On board the boat bound for New Orleans, Tom saved the life of young Eva. St. Clare, Eva’s father, purchased Tom with gratitude. In St. Clare’s home, Tom lived a happy life for two years. Eva and he became good friends. But after Eva and her father’s death, Tom’s fate was changed again. He was sent by Eva’s mother to an auction market to sell. Tom was bought by a slaveholder named Legree. Legree was cruel to slaves and addicted to alcohol. At last, when Tom protected two female slaves from being captured, he was beaten to death viciously by Legree. When he was dying, his former master’s son－George Shelby got the plantation and bought Tom’s body with huge wealth.
At the same time, Eliza and her son met her husband－George Harris, who disguised himself as a Spaniard and brought a gun with himself. He shot a chaser on his way to Canada. At last, he and his family got together in the Canada----a free country.
1.4 Literature Review
As the first widely read political novel in the United States, Uncle Tom's Cabin greatly influenced development of not only American literature but also protest literature in general. Later books which owe a large debt to Uncle Tom's Cabin include The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.
Many critics have praised the novel. Edmund Wilson stated that "To expose oneself in maturity to Uncle Tom's Cabin may … prove a startling experience." Jane Tompkins states that the novel is one of the classics of American literature and wonders if many literary critics aren't dismissing the book because it was simply too popular during its day.
Over the years scholars have postulated a number of theories about what Stowe was trying to say with the novel. For example, as an ardent Christian and active abolitionist, Stowe placed many of her religion's beliefs into the novel.  Some scholars have stated that Stowe saw her novel as offering a solution to the moral and political dilemma that troubled many slavery opponents: whether engaging in prohibited behavior was justified in opposing evil. Was the use of violence to oppose the violence of slavery and the breaking of proslavery laws morally defensible? Which of Stowe's characters should be emulated, the passive Uncle Tom or the defiant George Harris?  Stowe's solution was similar to Ralph Waldo Emerson's: God's will would be followed if each person sincerely examined his principles and acted on them. #p#分页标题#e#
Scholars have also seen the novel as expressing the values and ideas of the Free Will Movement. In this view, the character of George Harris embodies the principles of free labor, while the complex character of Ophelia represents those Northerners who condoned compromise with slavery. In contrast to Ophelia is Dinah, who operates on passion. During the course of the novel Ophelia is transformed, just as the Republican Party (three years later) proclaimed that the North must transform itself and stand up for its antislavery principles.
Ironically, in the 20th century the novel has also been dismissed by a number of literary critics as "merely a sentimental novel,” while critic George Whicher stated in his Literary History of the United States that "Nothing attributable to Mrs. Stowe or her handiwork can account for the novel's enormous vogue; its author's resources as a purveyor of Sunday-school fiction were not remarkable. She had at most a ready command of broadly conceived melodrama, humor, and pathos, and of these popular cements she compounded her book."
Stowe's moral and theological views and domestic discourse were accepted as being progressive in the nineteenth century. It is ironic that in the twentieth century, she has come to exemplify both impotent white liberalism and the source of racist preconceptions about African Americans. 
Chapter2 The Theoretical Perspective -Northrop Frye’s Theory of Archetype
In Greek, ‘arch’ means ‘first’, ‘typos’ means ‘form’ or ‘type’. So, ‘archetype’ means first type/form or original type/form. In the theories of Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), archetypes are primordial mythic forms that embody psychological drives and forces that originate in the collective unconscious. For the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye (1912-1991), archetypes are the socially-concerned organizing forms and patterns of literature that originate in myth and which unify and reveal literature as an imaginatively-inhabitable world. His great work, such as The Secular Scripture (1976), The Great Code (1982) and Words with Power (1990) all center on the study of the Bible. In Frye’s system, the organizing principles that give literature coherence and structure are derived from the archetypal imagery found in the Bible and the myths of ancient Greece. He suggests that all literature is based on displacements of these myths. Archetypal criticism focused on characters, images, symbols, metaphors, plots, events and themes. 
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Bible was mentioned more than 70 times. Mrs. Stowe quoted many sentences from the Bible and almost all the people of the justice side are pious Christians. So some critics even think it is a novel of religion. Without doubt, her strong religious background brought deep religious consciousness to her novel. Christian spirit also acts as an important reason of the great success of this book. The moral spirit out of Christian charity and humanity advocated by Uncle Tom’s Cabin has the greatest impact. #p#分页标题#e#
Consciously or unconsciously, we can sense Christian spirits and values on various characters like Uncle Tom and little Eva. Under Mrs. Stowe’s pen, these characters all have their respective counterpart in the Bible. Through these characters, Mrs. Stowe expressed her thoughts publicized her solutions to slavery.
In terms of Biblical archetype, we will analyze those characters like Uncle Tom and little Eva. What’s more, we will also focus on the reason of the evident religious consciousness to discuss Mrs. Stowe’s reconsideration of American society at that time.
Chapter3 Characters in the Novel
3.1 Uncle Tom—a True Black Christian, Jesus Christ with Black Skin
In this novel, Uncle Tom is a perfect pious Christian. We would feel almost all the good qualities of Christian on him. He is loving, faithful, Obedient, and full of integrity. All of those are indispensable to a pious Christian. Uncle Tom is saint-like or even Jesus-like, both his experience and characters are quite similar to that of Jesus Christ.
Uncle Tom is loyal to his master and pious to God. His first master, Mr. Shelby trusts him. Once, Mr. Shelby let him to go to Cincinnati alone to do business for him. Tom doesn’t run away, instead, he comes back because he thinks, “Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn’t!”  Just as himself asks Mr. Shelby, “…have I ever broke word to you, or go contrary to you, especially since I was a Christian?”  St. Clare, a careless master, who gives Tom a bill without looking at it, trusts Tom so much that ‘Tom had every facility and temptation to dishonesty’, yet ‘nothing but an impregnable simplicity of nature, strengthened by Christian faith, could have kept him from it’ 
Tom is full of love for his neighbors, blacks and whites. All the blacks nearby treat him as a priest and Godfather. He is a Christ-like figure. When Mr. Shelby sells Uncle Tom to the coarse slave—dealer in financial straits, Tom could have run away. But when he realized if he runs away, another slave would be sold without hesitation. He stays in the plantation and sacrificed himself for other slaves. Jesus is also sold by his apostle Judas who is prompted also by his desire for money. So they are betrayed and sold by the—ones who are close to them.
On the other hand, they all sacrificed themselves to save others. He refuses to run away to prevent Mr. Shelby from selling other slavers. Jesus and Uncle Tom are all innocent, but all die for others. Jesus is crucified to redeem sinners while Uncle dies for the two running slavers, Cassy and Emmeline. In essence, they all die for their faith and religious devotion. While he struggles with his faith, as Jesus does in the last hours of his life when he says, “my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he and Jesus both never lose their simile faith. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the chapter 40’s title is “Martyr” which precisely defines Uncle Tom’s identify.#p#分页标题#e#
The Bible said “Pray for those who persecuted you”. Pious Christian is characterized by their extraordinary forgiveness. Jesus forgives those who persecute him for he prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Uncle Tom also forgives his third cruel master Legree and Legree’s two overseers who harshly flogged him by saying, “I forgive you, with all my soul!”
Uncle Tom is so sympathetic and loving. While he is at St. Clare’s home, he meets that pitiful, wretched old slave Prue whose only left child is starved to death because she devotes all her time to tend her mistress and loses her milk, yet her mistress refuses to buy milk for her baby. Tom offers to carry her basket for her and sends the Gospel to her. Just as when Jesus sees sinners, he pities them, helps them, cures them and tells them ‘the good news’.
Such examples are too many. Uncle Tom’s great love can be found almost everywhere in the novel.
His temperament is like that of Jesus Christ. They are both loving, faithful, forgiving and obedient.
Some critics think Uncle Tom is born a slave, physically and psychologically, because he never fights to change his destiny. But in my mind, as a pious Christian, Tom is submissive and obedient but only to God. When Jesus is facing his immediate bitter death, he prays in the Mount of Olives, ‘…yet, not my will but yours be done’. Tom says similar words, ‘The Lord’s will be done!’  when he learns he will be sold to the south after the unexpected death of St. Clare. Yet his obedience is not to everyone. For example, once Legree requires Tom to flog a weak slave woman, Tom refuses, saying, ‘…but this yer thing I can’t feel it right to do; and mas’r, I never shall do it-never!’  So his obedience is no blind. He only obeys what he believes right.
Why Mrs. Stowe depicted Tom as a Christ-like figure? Perhaps she wanted to elicit sympathy from her readers most of who were whites. If Tom is not portrayed as a prefect, if his image doesn’t remained readers of Jesus, the great historical status and effect are hard to be achieved in a Christian country.
3.2 Evangeline St. Clare --- an Evangelist, the Only True White Christian
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, there are two perfect Christian images: Uncle Tom and little Eva. One is white and the other black. In Tom’s eyes, Eva is an angel. Mrs. Stowe named this girl “Evangeline”, which represents pure and beauty.
Uncle Tom and little Eva are both without human weakness and too pure to exist in real life. Little Eva is full of Christian love, like a good guardian angel.
When little Eva hears Pruce’s tragic story by accident, her heart is bleeding and doesn’t want to go out to play again for the terrible story “sinks into her heart” . When Uncle Tom finds little Eva hear the story and sees the expressions on her face, he is so nervous. Because he realizes such terrible story will exert life—long hurt on a pure heart. In little Eva’s pure heart, there is no racial discrimination or awareness of different colors of skins. All she knows and does is to love all the people around her. Just as her name ‘Evangeline’ suggests, she is an evangelist to everyone. She shares the Gospel with all her father’s plantation slaves as well as questioning her own father’s faith. This action by Eva saves many lost souls and gives them hope. Once they spend holiday with her uncle and cousin, she stops her cousin from cursing his little slave and tells him slaves and their owners are the same. When she knows her mammy can’t sleep well for the task of taking care of her mother. She begs her mother to let her serve her mother instead of her mammy. In her eyes, there are many puzzling things, such as why Prue is so unhappy, why Tom should be separated from his wife and children, why no one loves that black little girl, Topsy. She even said she could die for reducing the harshness of slaves. When dying, she gives every slave servant in her house a lock of fair golden hair, asking him or her to be Christian and begging her father to liberate all the slaves. #p#分页标题#e#
Little Eva and Uncle Tom are too pure and do not belong to the world. Especially little Eva, she is delicate and dies early, which “dramatize the fact that she does not belong to the world. This is especially evident when the angel is a child, like Stowe’s Eva.” They two pious Christians are doomed to be tragic figures under cruel slave system.
3.3 Sambo, Qimbo and George Harris ---Those Once Lost Souls
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, all characters can be put into four categories: perfect Christians, imperfect Christians, half – Christians and non-Christians. Sambo, Qimbo and George Harris belong to the last category. They once have no awareness of any religion. Especially Harris is always skeptical to Christianity and questions if God ever exist why there was so much unfairness? So they are lost souls in the Bible. But at last, they all come near to God. In the definition of Christianity, they are “saved”.
Sambo and Qimbo, Legree’s two cruel overseers, with the command of Legree , the two flog Tom near to the point of death. Sambo and Qimbo are quite similar to the two criminals crucified together with Jesus Christ. In the Bible, one of the two criminals is moved by Jesus and believes Jesus is Messiah, and his soul is saved at the very moment and spot. Sambo and Qimbo persecute Uncle Tom, but Tom’s forgiveness, patience and fortitude move these two beast-like and callous men. They ask Uncle Tom who the person standing by him all the night is Then, Tom introduces Jesus Christ to them, and they are converted immediately
Harrie is rebellious and can’t bear the unfairness of the slavery society. He doesn’t believe in God, totally goes contrary to his pious wife, Eliza. But on his way to Canada, the free land, many people give him a hand. A common trait of these helpers is their identities of Christian. When his family reunion comes to a reality, he becomes more content and comes to understand the spirit of Christianity. Harriet is once a lost lamb. But the deeds of those kind Christians make his hopeless heart awaken and at last bring him back to the fold of God.
3.4 Eliza –-the Most Fortunate and Beloved Woman
At the beginning of the novel, we can sense that Eliza is the most fortunate woman in the novel. She jumped the Ohio river through the floating ices which is impossible to a fragile woman. The five images we have mentioned---Tom, Eva, Sambo,Qimbo and George Harris –are not hard to find their respective archetypes in the Bible. Eliza is a more indirect one who is like Israelites running away from Egypt where they are slaves to Canaan where they will have a new free happy life. Eliza’s running is guided by God all the way, as Israelites are guided by God who appears ‘in the pillars of cloud and fire’. Israelites’ passing through the Red Sea which ‘was turned into dry land by strong east wind’ is a miracle. So is Eliza’s escape through jumping from one ice flow to another, which can’t be done without the ‘strength such as God gives only to the desperate’ . If we say the Ohio River is like the Red Sea, then the lake between America and Canada is like the river Jordan that lies between terrible wilderness and wonderful Canaan. The Ohio River is like the Red Sea, because Eliza endures many pains after her crossing of the Ohio River, just like Israelites still have to suffer much in the wilderness. Eliza is most beloved, because she loses nothing and gets united with her husband and lost mother in Canada. Her destiny is totally different from that of Uncle Tom. Israelites and Eliza are all guided all the way by God to reach the free lands. They all experience hardships, but God always stand by their side and eventually say them.#p#分页标题#e#
Chapter4 Mrs. Stowe’s Reconsideration of American Society and Criticism on “Religion”
Without doubt, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is aimed to popularize Christian spirit and free slavers. All the figures of justice in this novel share the identity of Christian. Obvious Christian awareness comes from Mrs. Stowe’s faith on God and her intention to win the support of her readers by striking their strings of emotions. The United States is a country where Christianity plays an important part of people’s life. Christianity makes Uncle Tom’s Cabin more near, real and acceptable to American society. 
Comparing with Tom and Eva, Mrs. Stowe was not a “devoted “and “imperfect” Christian. Read with care, we can find those slaves who finally lead a happy life all violate Christian spirit. But, ironically, the two perfect obedient Christians, Tom and Eva all die. Cassy, Emmeline, George Harris and his wife Eliza are runaway slaves, especially George adopts violence to fight against his chasers. Running away and violence are all against the purposes and principles of Christianity. But under Mrs. Stowe’s pen, those rebels are at last redeemed. Some people think it equals that Mrs. Stowe advocated slavers to fight for their freedom and emancipation through violence. But, evidently, as a pious female Christian, Mrs. Stowe will never agree any form of violence.
Take George for example, when in a small hotel he says to Mr. Wilson “I will fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe. You say your father did it, if it is right for them, it is right for me”  But we should also notice that Mr. Wilson advised Harris he’d better not shot  and Harris himself would rather “…..be let alone to go peacefully out of it [ the U.S.]” . Mrs. Stowe was loyal to God but she was not a psychological slaver of Christian church.
In terms of George Harris, Mrs. Stowe advocated limited passive resistance when the law of Christianity was violated by the system of slavery. Pure Christian Can’t survive in a society which slavery is permitted. Through the different destinies of Uncle Tom, Eliza and George Harris, Mrs. Stowe intended to show us true Christian belief will never come back if slavery ever exists. Perfect Christians are doomed to die while imperfect Christians or non-Christians lead a happy life, this kind of phenomenon is ironical to American society.
In American society, salve system was symbol of evils which hinders the realization of Christian love. The evils of the institution of slavery will only make pure belief utopian and childish. Uncle Tom and little Eva’s deaths prove that slavery and Christianity have no room for each other. This novel was so popular because readers found it near to their life. Christianity is like a double—edged sword and was made use by slave owners. This phenomenon didn’t skip from Mrs. Stowe’s eyes.#p#分页标题#e#
At that time, American Christianity was divided into church of south and church of north or church of the white and church of black. The northern part of America was against slavery, and it went along with Christian spirit. Every true Christian should not keep silent with slavery, or at least, a true Christian should not sustain and support slavery. But what did church of south do at that time? It supported slavery and tried many ways to persuade American people it was rational to keep slavers. How to explain slavery was rational? Whenever westerners faced difficulties, they would come more “near” to God. They made use of the Bible. Many south priests propagandized the word “slave” appeared twice in the Ten Commandments. So it means God permit people to keep slavers. And they reminded their fellow Americans they were an advanced nation, it was their responsibility to take the blacks to American Continent to enable them hear the Gospels. White superiority was so prevailed even some northern Christians held it. Miss Ophelia, though has missionary zeal, dares not to tough Topsy, the slave girl she is reforming for she still has the sense of white superiority at the bottom of her heart. 
The Bible is a pillar to western culture, so southern government, southern church and even slave—owners used the Bible to make slavers more obedient. The evil slave—owner, Lygree, has little passion for God. He is a Satan on earth. But he once used the Bible to curse Uncle Tom “Don’t you know the Bible says servants should be submissive to their owners?”  In the Bible, tricky people can always find words to explain and defend the slavery or any other they will benefit. Facing that social reality, pious Mrs. Stowe’s heart was aching and treated it as a shame of Christianity. In the novel, she directly criticized those who use the Bible to defend Slavery. She unmasked and criticized some aspects of the Christianity, because these aspects couldn’t represent Christian spirit. Under some condition, Christianity was used to make slavers believe they were born slavers and should follow their destinies. Mrs. Stowe criticized Christianity only when it was made use as a tool of slavery.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is out Mrs. Stowe’s life at the atmosphere of Christianity which inevitably influenced her masterpiece. From the perspective of a pious Christian, Mrs. Stowe took up her pen to portray the Christian figures. Through these figures, she showed us how perfect Christians were like and how hypocritical southern church was.
Chapter5 Influence of this Novel
5.1 Crisis of Christianity Reflected by the Novel
The U.S. is the most powerful country in the world. Another fact is it also possesses the largest group of Christians which amount to 85% of its population. A sociologist once mentioned “American society is composed of three parts: Politics, Economy and Culture. As to culture, the core of it is the Christianity and its relevant elements.” Christianity used to laid in the center of American society, especially in the colonial period. But time has changed, the situation of Christianity has also been different from that of a century ago. Mrs. Stowe criticized the southern church and some ministers who advocated slavery. From this novel, we can recognize the existed crises which resulted to the rapid decline of Christianity in America: perfect and pious Christians are few and far between. This is a crisis has troubled Christianity since it came into being. In the Old Testament, only a few disciples would devotedly accompany God. At present, about 85% of American people claim themselves to be Christians. But in reality, Christianity has lost its ground in the U.S. and become less and less significant in people’s daily life.#p#分页标题#e#
More than 300,000 churches which accommodate two thirds of its people, 9 million copies of the Bible are purchased every year, the words “In God We Trust” printed on its bills...all of these embody America is a Christian country. But people who believe in God are becoming fewer and fewer. Especially in the 20th century, Christianity lost nearly half of its followers in America. Evolution, Dawism or other scientific facts are not so powerful to change people’s belief. The scarcity of pious Christians and the fall of clergies jointly urge Christianity to lose its dominate position in America. Take Catholic Church for example, since the 1950s, it has paid 1 billion $ to compensate for sexual crimes its clergies committed. Clergies used to be authority and consultants of people’s life. Servicing with those scandals, the clergies and their churches don’t have attraction and appeal any more.
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, among numerous characters, uncle Tom and little Eva are the only two perfect Christians. The southern church and its clergies should on the side of justice, but they advocated slavery. This novel reminded us of the scarcity of pious belief and the fall of clergies which are exactly the crises induce the decline of Christianity in America.
5.2 Its Influence on the Liberation of the Blacks: from Slaves to the President
Since the found of the U.S. in 1776, racial problem has hindered its development. In the colonial period, slavery was viewed as reasonable and acceptable. Its founding fathers like George Washington and Jefferson are slavers. This issue troubled American society in the 19th century and at that time slavery became the center of American social problems. In the 1860s, the slaves were liberated, at least superficially. Many facts and people contributed to the emancipation of the slaves. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the “activator” of the slaves’ liberation and it exerted profound influence on the process of American history.
“My sole purpose is to save the Union. If I could save the Union without liberating a single slave, I am willing to do so” president Lincoln once expressed his policy. He was not a determined abolitionist and he preferred to compromise with the south. He was scared by the disrupting of America. In many people’s eyes, Lincoln is a God-like hero. But actually, his purpose of liberating slaves was to beat the south and save the Union. It equals that he was forced to free the slaves. He praised Mrs. Stowe “so you are the little woman who started the great war”. If this “great war” never broke out, he would do nothing to change American slavery. Uncle Tom’s cabin brought forward his “Emancipation Proclamation” of 1863.
African Americans had been slaves for 200 years in the U.S. But in 2008, President Obama was elected as American president. It embodies the U.S. has stepped into a new era. In 1863, the blacks were “freed”. Their liberation was superficial for they had nothing to support themselves and survive in capitalist society. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Mrs. Stowe fancied that if they gave slaves freedom they would be equally treated and she placed her hope on Liberia, the country founded by former slaves in western Africa.#p#分页标题#e#
The Civil War awarded slaves the identities of free citizen. But in reality, they were still slaves. American society crawled towards racial equality in 19th and the first half of the 20th century. The situation changed greatly in the 1960s through the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King. Racialism was struck and since then America had been moving from segregation.
Mrs. Stowe wanted the blacks could live and enjoy the same rights as the white. She cursed slavery of it treating slaves as animals. She never imagined the former “Uncle Tom” could be the leader of her nation. Their colors are the same, but a new era has come.
Chapter 6 Conclusion
Religious consciousness is a unique element of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Christianity played the most important role in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writing which inevitably influenced greatly the portraiture of characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and also Mrs. Stowe’s own solution to slavery and her attitudes towards some social phenomenon. Through these characters, through their deeds and experience, Mrs. Stowe shows us the evil of slavery and the spirit of Christianity. The author of this thesis intends to interpret Uncle Tom’s Cabin from the perspective of religious consciousness instead of anti-slavery to show a new outlook on it. Christianity is an indispensable part of western cultures and an important element in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it is still so powerful in western world, but most Chinese readers are not familiar with it. So the author in this thesis hopes to help Chinese readers appreciate it better more through the discussion about religious consciousness in it. And more important, this thesis makes discussion of what Mrs. Stowe was trying to say with the novel. Aside from the obvious themes, like condemning slavery, Mrs. Stowe also wanted to express her satire and criticism on American society.
People never forget President Lincoln’ great sacrifice and contribution to the emancipation of slaves. We should also remember Mrs. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin for it “started the war” and we have learned a lot from the novel, about American society of 19th century and religion. The blacks are not helpless and hopeless any more, the former Uncle “Toms” are becoming lawyers, scientists, professors and even president-President Obama. That is exactly Mrs. Stowe’s dream: blacks and whites are equally talented and both are God’s chosen people.
. Smith, Gail K.. Introduction to Uncle Tom's Cabin Study Guide, Book Rags. com. Retrieved May 16, 2006.
. Stowe, Harriet Beecher. A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin 1853, page 42,
. Smylie, James H. "Uncle Tom's Cabin Revisited: the Bible, the Romantic Imagination, and the Sympathies of Christ." American Presbyterians 1995 73(3): 165–175
. Smith; Jessie Carney. Images of Blacks in American Culture: A Reference Guide to Information Sources Greenwood Press. 1988#p#分页标题#e#
. 朱刚, A history of American literature ( second edition)[M]，上海：上海外语教育出版社, 2002;
. 王艳文，Deconstruction of Biblical archetype in Uncle Tom’s Cabin [J], 燕山大学学报，2006
      .   Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin[M], world Classics:4, 53, 189, 299, 203, 256, 57, 106, 248
．Ashton, Jean. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Reference Guide, 1977.
As a student with little literature talent and research experience, it is impossible for me to complete this thesis alone. My supervisor, Professor Liu Jianfeng，has given me many valuable instructions and suggestions since last semester. Thank him for the references he provided and patience he devoted. Through his patient instructions, I come to realize the need to improve my proficiency.
Thanks to the diligent teachers of School of Foreign Studies for their devotion in the last four years, I could improve my proficiency as an English major. My teachers, like Mr. Chen Ningguo and Associate Professor Hu Weili, their knowledge and personalities are sure to exert lifetime influence on me.
Special thanks to my family, especially my father. For the past 22 years, his support and sacrifice ensured my study.
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