good and pious man, Uncle Tom is the protagonist of Uncle
. Even under the worst conditions, Uncle Tom
always prays to God and finds a way to keep his faith. As the novel
progresses, the cruel treatment that Tom suffers at the hands of
Simon Legree threatens his belief in God, but Tom withstands his
doubts and dies the death of a Christian martyr.
in-depth analysis of Uncle Tom.
Tom’s wife and the Shelbys’ cook. Chloe often acts like a jovial
simpleton around the Shelbys to mask her more complex feelings.
owner of Uncle Tom in Kentucky, Shelby sells Tom to the cruel Mr.
Haley to pay off his debts. An educated, kind, and basically good-hearted
man, Shelby nonetheless tolerates and perpetuates slavery. Stowe
uses him to illustrate that the immorality inherent in slavery makes
villains of all its practitioners—not just the most cruel masters.
Shelby’s wife, Emily Shelby is a loving, Christian woman who does
not believe in slavery. She uses her influence with her husband
to try to help the Shelbys’ slaves and is one of the novel’s many
morally virtuous and insightful female characters.
“Mas’r George” by Uncle Tom, George is the Shelbys’ good-hearted
son. He loves Tom and promises to rescue him from the cruelty into
which his father sold him. After Tom dies, he resolves to free all
the slaves on the family farm in Kentucky. More morally committed
than his father, George not only possesses a kind heart but acts
on his principles.
husband and an intellectually curious and talented mulatto, George
loves his family deeply and willingly fights for his freedom. He
confronts the slave hunter Tom Loker and does not hesitate to shoot
him when he imperils the family.
Shelby’s maid, George’s wife, and Harry’s mother, Eliza is an intelligent,
beautiful, and brave young slave. After Mr. Shelby makes known his
plans to sell Eliza’s son to Mr. Haley, she proves the force of her
motherly love as well as her strength of spirit by making a spectacular
escape. Her crossing of the Ohio River on patches of ice is the
novel’s most famous scene.
and George’s son, a young boy.
Augustine St. Clare
master in New Orleans and Eva’s father, St.
Clare is a flighty and romantic man, dedicated to pleasure. St.
Clare does not believe in God, and he carouses and drinks every
night. Although he dotes on his daughter and treats his slaves with
compassion, St. Clare shares the hypocrisy of Mr. Shelby in that
he sees the evil of slavery but nonetheless tolerates and practices
Clare and Marie’s angelic daughter. Eva, also referred to in the
book as Little Eva (her given name is Evangeline) is presented as
an absolutely perfect child—a completely moral being and an unimpeachable
Christian. She laments the existence of slavery and sees no difference
between blacks and whites. After befriending Tom while still a young
girl, Eva becomes one of the most important figures in his life.
In death, Eva becomes one of the text’s central Christ figures.
Clare’s cousin from the North (Vermont) who comes to help him manage
the household, Ophelia opposes slavery in the abstract. However,
she finds actual slaves somewhat distasteful and harbors considerable
prejudice against them. After Eva’s death, and through her relationship
with Topsy, Ophelia realizes her failings and learns to see slaves
as human beings. Stowe hoped that much of her Northern audience
might recognize themselves in Ophelia and reconsider their views
Clare’s wife, a self-centered woman. Petty, whining, and foolish,
she is the very opposite of the idealized woman figure that appears
Quakers, a Christian group that arose in mid-seventeenth-century
England, dedicated themselves to achieving an inner understanding
of God, without the use of creeds, clergy, or outward rites. The
Quakers have a long history of contributing to social reform and peace
efforts. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
many Quaker characters
appear who help George and Eliza, as well as many other slaves.
Stowe uses them to portray a Christianity free of hypocrisy, self-righteous
display, or bigoted conventions. This kind of Christianity, she implies,
can play a crucial role in the abolition
Senator and Mrs. Bird
Bird is another example of the virtuous woman.
She tries to exert influence through her husband. Senator Bird exemplifies
the well-meaning man who is sympathetic to the abolitionist cause
but who nonetheless remains complacent or resigned to the status
slave hunter hired by Mr. Haley to bring back Eliza, Harry, and
George, Tom Loker first appears as a gruff, violent man. George
shoots him when he tries to capture them, and, after he is healed
by the Quakers, Loker experiences a transformation and chooses to
join the Quakers rather than return to his old life.
slave trader who buys Uncle Tom and Harry from Mr. Shelby. A gruff,
coarse man, Haley presents himself as a kind individual who treats
his slaves well. Haley, however, mistreats his slaves, often violently.
wild and uncivilized slave girl whom Miss Ophelia tries to reform,
Topsy gradually learns to love and respect others by following the
example of Eva.
ruthlessly evil master on the Louisiana plantation. A vicious, barbaric,
and loathsome man, Legree fosters violence and hatred among his
in-depth analysis of Simon Legree.
(slave) mistress and Eliza’s mother, Cassy proves a proud and intelligent
woman and devises a clever way to escape Legree’s plantation.
young and beautiful slave girl whom Legree buys for himself, perhaps
to replace Cassy as his mistress. She has been raised as a pious