Women Against Convention in Uncle Tom’s Cabin The ability to reach the masses and to show the ideology of overcoming is one which is a prospect in most literature. This is based not only on the need to create a different response to those in society but also to show how there are specific attitudes and behaviors which are overlooked within society…
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The behaviors that are described are used specifically to create a different understanding of the women in the book and to provide a different sense of insight to the women of the time period and the roles which were carried out with the responses to slavery. The main ideologies which are seen in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” are based on showing the conventional women as a main identity juxtaposed against those that don’t have the same ideals. The concept of the conventional woman is based on those who are submissive in society and which have a demeanor that is below men and is known for beauty. The unconventional women reject this ideal and move against this to create an outlook that is tough, rigid and which doesn’t conform to the submission that is a part of the social acceptance of gender. A point that shows this is when Marie becomes angry with her cousin. “ ‘Delicacy! Said Marie, with a scornful laugh – ‘a fine word for such as she! I’ll teach her, with all her airs, that she’s no better than the raggedest black wench that walks the streets! She’ll take no more airs with me!’” (Stowe, 366). This is an important line in the story as it shows the difference between the women. The identity of one is based on beauty, delicacy and the ‘lady-like airs.’ However, Stowe sides with the Marie who is interested in making the woman into a ‘wench’ and to teach her a lesson about the realities of life. The identity of gender leads from the conventional to one who rebels against this because of the values that are learned with gender. The unconventional ways in which Stowe focuses on the women in the book leads to one of the main controversies, specifically because of the time frame in which this was written in. The sentimental value doesn’t come from the lady like airs, but rather the toughness of the women. The value which is created among male scholars is one which would be associated with the lack of gender identity among the women. However, for women, there is a sense of identity, feminine power and value to the women which creates a type of sentiment and understanding to those that are in this condition. The representation of the women is then able to speak to an audience that moves beyond male scholars and instead speaks to the women who have the same conflicts with the belief that they are inferior because of their gender (Tompkins, 123). The concept of speaking to women, creating sentimental value and going against the convention all work together with several examples through “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Stowe is able to show how the idea of being unconventional is the only thing which allows the women to overcome their condition that is noted throughout the book. It also gives a sense of acceptance to those that don’t stay in the normal identity and which are able to create their own power by remaining outside of this. For instance, when Miss Ophelia and Marie are speaking, there is reference to Marie’s past life and her children. Marie states “Well, of course, I couldn’t bring them. They were little dirty things – I couldn’t have them about; and, besides, they took up too much of her time; but I believe that Mammy has always kept up a sort of sulkiness about this” (Stowe, 192). Marie then refers to her children as selfish and her need to take care of herself. The unconvention
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