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“In “Uncle Tom´S Cabin” Harriet Beecher Stowe Has Given The Reader A Way To Empathize With The Protagonist, And Clarify That The Passage Of Fugitive Slave Act Is Not Human.”

1911 words - 8 pages

1. Introduction

In this paper, I will analyse American author Harriet Beecher Stowe´s way to give the reader the possibility to empathize with the protagonist Eliza in Uncle Tom´s Cabin. My textual basis will limit on the statement of account from the Norton Anthology of American Literature which chapter 7 and 9 comprises.

To understand the theses of my paper first I have to explain what empathy is and how it works. Ensuing I will discuss how the empathy occurs in the text and which rhetorical devices the author incorporates. Afterwards I will characterize the protagonist Eliza and explain why the author especially uses this kind of character.

At last I will explain what the ...view middle of the document...

The only main difference is that we share the feelings while reading, with a fictive character, so to speak the protagonist.

2.2 How has the author given the reader a way to empathize with the protagonist Eliza?
Eliza is a slave who escapes with her five year old son after he is sold to a slave trader. Later on she finds shelter with Senator Bird who gives her support to escape.
The narrated situation is a cold winter set in America. Due to the fact that Eliza lives on a remote farm and that she has a long journey without any reserve ahead, makes the situation very dangerous. In the first paragraph of chapter 7 Stowe describes the inner conflict of Eliza to leave “[…] the only home she had ever known […] “ (Beecher Stowe 767). She is in conflict with herself because everything that she knows or experienced happened in this place. At the same time she grew up in that place which makes it even more difficult for a person to leave. “[…] could she go from a home like that? “ (Beecher Stowe 767). Yes she can because her maternal love is stronger than any feeling that she could have for her home. “But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm of frenzy by the near approach of fearful danger.” (Beecher Stowe 767), gives the reader here an idea how desperate the protagonist´s situation is.
Harriet Beecher Stowe uses in all these examples special rhetorical devices, Hypo taxes for example which have the effect of a vivid account by describing thoughts. She also uses many adjectives to characterize a protagonist or to describe landscapes “He was a great, tall, bristling Orson of a fellow, full six feet and some inches in his stockings, and arrayed in a red flannel hunting-shirt. A very heavy mat of sandy hair, in a decidedly tousled condition, and a beard of some days ‘growth, gave the worthy man an appearance, to say the least, not particularly prepossessing.” (Beecher Stowe 786). This is also a reason why the Novel is still current. Langston Hughes gives in his essay Introduction to Uncle Tom´s Cabin a quotation “But in addition Uncle Tom´s Cabin also happened to be a good story, exciting and incident, sharp in characterization, and threaded with humour. That is why it still lives.” (Ammons 103). The author also uses the direct speech to familiarize oneself better with the protagonist. The reader gets direct insight of the conversations and cares and hopes with the protagonist.
The fact that Harriet Beecher Stowe uses many rhetorical devices and narrates very expressively makes it possible for the reader to empathize with the protagonist.

2.3 Why does the author especially use this kind of character?
The author uses especially this kind of character because Eliza is a young mother who needs help. The author uses a character which everybody, especially female readers, could empathize with. “This is the chapter title to tug at every female reader´s heartstring.” (Gates & Robbins...

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