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Tragic Hero Essay, Research Paper

Me Ideal Woman

Being the only Northerner to take a focal role in Uncle Tom s Cabin, Miss Ophelia is a realistic adaptation of the ideal woman that

Harriet Beecher Stowe proposes with the images of the other perfect women. She is educated, single, independent, ambitious, and

motivated by a certain sense of duty. Unlike the other women in the novel, she is the one with the most masculine mannerisms: she

relies on her thoughts rather than her emotions to make decisions about her life and political beliefs. However Miss Ophelia also

appears to be the audience that Stowe is partially addressing — those who feel like they know something about slavery, but who

haven t truly analyzed their own mind about their prejudices. This was one of the reasons why Stowe wrote her book: to connect with

people who hadn t yet decided what side of the Mason-Dixon line they fell on. Ophelia is the perfect example of either Northerners or

Southerners who at first don t have a strong opinion about slavery but after an encounter, experience, or a revelation finally find their

voice. For Miss Ophelia, she discovers herself with the help of a little girl.

Little Eva attempts to explain to Ophelia about how they should love all and follow Jesus love for everyone. Don t you know that

Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He loves you just as I do, -only more, because he is bette that can t necessarily persuade Miss Ophelia to kiss and hug the slaves.

It puts me in mind of mother, he said to Ophelia. It is true what she told me, if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be

willing to do as Christ did, – call them to us, and put our hands on them.

I ve always had a prejudice against Negroes, said Miss Ophelia, and it s a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but I

didn t think she knew it. (p. 246)

Even though Miss Ophelia has people trying to persuade her to fully embrace the other race, for one reason or another she just can t

bring herself to do it. She believes that it is wrong because that is what she was raised to think. On the other hand, St. Clare is the

polar opposite to Ophelia. He is less ruled by what he should do and more so directed by what he feels. Little Eva is this way as

well. Guided by her love for God and knowledge of the Bible she lives the life of a model Christian bound for heaven a Christian

whom a majority of the characters yearn to become alike to.

After Eva s death Miss Ophelia comes to a higher understanding of slavery. Suddenly she realizes that it is wrong, in a rather real

sense to her, because it does not give the slaves a chance for salvation. Her wall of feelings of racial superiority is finally broken

down by the friendship she had formed with Eva.

Miss Ophelia felt the loss; but, in her good and honest heart, it bore fruit unto everlasting life. She was more softened, more gentle;

and though equally assiduous in every duty, it was with a chastened and quiet air, as one who communed with her own heart not in

vain. She was more diligent in teaching Topsy did not any longer shrink from her touch, or manifest an ill-repressed disgust,

because she felt none. She viewed her now through the softened medium that Eva s hand had first held before her eyes, and saw her

only an immoral creature, whom god had sent to be led by her to glory and virtue The callous indifference was gone; there was now

sensibility, hope, desire, and the striving for good. (p. 266-7)

Miss Ophelia came into her cousin s household na ve and untainted with much true knowledge nor contact with the frowned upon

race. Submerging herself into the Southern culture, she notices and can categorize two types of white people: those who loathe and

hate Negroes and those who attempt to free them from their suppressed and captive lives. Now Ophelia knows that she is prejudiced

and must have love for Topsy in order to help her. This is Miss Ophelia s type of religious. Prue shows the problems when slaves have gone bad, when their masters have been so

horrid to them they have no cloice but to turn to lying, cheating, and drinking. Miss Ophelia now discovers how bad slavery is, it

never gives the slaves a chance for salvation. She realizes this in a very real and vivid sense. Slaves are forced into hopeless worlds

and never have a chance to escape. This is exactly the same note that Stowe tries to hit with her readers. Even if they do not have

any certain problem with slavery, they should at the least want to condemn all of the horrid souls to an afterlife in hell.

Feminism is an unmistakable theme in this novel. Stowe portrays women as strong, independent characters and

Works Cited

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom s Cabin. W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. New York, 1994


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