Eva Eliza And Uncle Toms Cabin English Literature Essay

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In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the author describes several female characters, among which Eliza and Eva are most important. On one hand, they both represent an important spirit in Christianity - love, that is, Eliza's love for her son and Eva's love for everyone around her. On the other hand, there is a certain degree of defiance in Eliza, which is different from Eva. Through a comparative analysis of these two characters, we can get a better understanding of the Christian spirit and learn more about the power of women in society. The paper will also examine a little the role of women in China nowadays as a modern relevance.

In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin [1] , she created several characters in which we can feel a strong sense of love. Apart from Uncle Tom, there are also female characters famous for their spirit of love. The characters of Eliza and Eva fascinate me. Eliza loves her son so much that she strives to save her son from being sold to another owner. Eva bears a deep love for everybody around her, especially Uncle Tom and Topsy, and in the last moment of her life, she converts Topsy and some other servants. This essay will be divided into two parts. The first part analyzes the life of Eliza and Eva, and the second part is a comparative analysis of Eliza and Eva. These analyses are designed for us to gain a better understanding of the Christian spirit.

1. The life of Eliza

Eliza is brought up by Mrs. Shelby, and she marries to George. Harry is their only son, so Eliza loves him very much. When Eliza hears that Mr. Shelby wants to sell Harry, she makes up her mind to save her child. When she comes to the Ohio River, she finds the river has blocked her way. She bravely jumped on the ice and arrives at the other bank of the river. Eliza is a pious Christian and she firmly believes in God. When her husband complains to her about his master, she tells him to be patient and not to rebel again his master. Even in the way of her escape, she is always praying for the help of God. She also believes that they can get redemption through believing in Christianity. With this belief, she crosses the River of Ohio and finally arrives in Canada with her husband and son.

The following excerption from Chapter Seven shows Eliza's desire to save her son from being sold and thus her love for her son.

If it were your Harry, mother, or you Willie, that were going to be torn from you by a brutal trader, to-morrow morning, - if you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and delivered, and you had only from twelve o'clock till morning to make good your escape, - how fast could you walk? How many miles could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your bosom, - the little sleepy head on your shoulder, - the small, soft arms trustingly holding on to your neck?

――Uncle Tom's Cabin, p.43

In that dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the ground, and a moment brought her to the water's edge. Right on behind they came; and, nerved with strength such as God gives only to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of ice beyond. It was a desperate leap - impossible to anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, Andy, instinctively cried out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.

――Uncle Tom's Cabin, p.51

From these two paragraphs, we can feel the deep love Eliza bears for her son. It is with this love that she jumps across the River, and escapes into freedom. When she arrives at Quaker and reunites with her husband George, she dreams of a beautiful country. Eliza has influenced George to some degree. George is beginning to have a better understanding of the word "home", and he begins to believe in God.

This, indeed, was a home - home - a word that George had never yet known a meaning for; and a belief in God, and trust in his providence, began to encircle his heart, as, with a golden cloud of protection and confidence, dark, misanthropic, pining atheistic doubts, and fierce despair, melted away before the light of a living Gospel, breathed in living faces, preached by a thousand unconscious acts of love and good will, which, like the cup of cold water given in the name of disciple, shall never lose their reward.

――Uncle Tom's Cabin, p.120

With the love shared by them, they do not give up hope. They finally settle in Canada and live a happy life. The spirit of love represented by Eliza is very important in the Christian spirit.

2. The life of Eva

Another female character, Eva, in the novel also shows the spirit of love. Her love is different from that of Eliza. It is not maternal love from mother for son. It is universal love. Eva has a deep love for almost everyone around her, especially Topsy. Eva's story is mainly told from Chapter 14 to Chapter 27. These chapters tell the life of Eva, her spirit of love and her belief in Christianity.

Eva is the daughter of Augustine St. Clare, and her full name is Evangeline, which is the angel in the Bible. Both her and her father's name are symbolic. In the novel, Eva is like an angel, spreading the spirit of love to the world. In Chapter 14, when Uncle Tom first sees Eva, the author describes Eva as following:

Her form was the perfection of childish beauty, without its usual chubbiness and squareness of outline. There was about it an undulating and aerial grace, such as one might dream of for some mythic and allegorical being. Her face was remarkable less for its perfect beauty of feature than for a singular and dreamy earnestness of expression, which made the ideal start when they looked at her, and by which the dullest and most literal were impressed, without exactly knowing why.

――Uncle Tom's Cabin, p.123

From her first appearance in the novel, she is acting like an angel. She cares very much for the people around. When she sees the slaves sitting in chains, "she would glide in among them, and look at them with an air of perplexed and sorrowful earnestness [2] ". She likes Uncle Tom very much and asks her father to buy him. When Mr. St. Clare asks her the reason, Eva replies "I want to make him happy [3] ". In my view, this is an evidence of Eva's love. She does not think that much about herself, but she wants to buy Tom only because she wants to make him happy.

One important thing to notice about Eva is her conversations with Topsy. Richard Yarborough in his essay "Strategies of Black Characterization in Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Early Afro-American Novel" compares Eva and Topsy. "If Eva is the 'fair, high-bred child, with her golden head, her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and princelike movements', Topsy is her 'black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor'. [4] " Stowe describes Eva as "an impersonation in childish form of the love of Christ" to show the spirit of love embedded in Eva.

Eva is like an angel, showing her love towards people around her, especially Topsy. Eva often says to Topsy that she loves Topsy. The most significant scene concerning Eva is her death. Stowe describes the scene as follows in Chapter 26:

It is impossible to describe the scene, as, with tears and sobs, they gathered around the little creature, and took form her hands what seemed to them a last mark of her love. They fell on their knees; they sobbed, and prayed, and kissed the hem of her garment; and the elder ones poured forth words of endearment, mingled in prayers and blessings, after the manner of their susceptible race. [5] 

Eva, on her death bed, says, "I sent for you all, my dear friends, because I love you. I love you all [6] ." In the last moment, she cries out the words "love", "joy" and "peace" [7] . Stowe characterizes Eva as a Christian figure, and Eva has exerted certain degree of influence on her father as well as on Topsy.

Topsy has been converted upon Eva's death. Eva tells Topsy to be a good girl and Topsy has decided to try her best. Eva's father Augustine, under the influence of Eva, has changed some of his views towards life and slavery. He later talks with Tom about Christianity and God, and promises to give Tom freedom.

Still St. Clare was, in many respects, another man. he read his little Eva's Bible seriously and honestly; he thought more soberly and practically of his relations to his servants - enough to make him extremely dissatisfied with both his past and present course; and one thing he did soon after his return to New Orleans, and that was to commence the legal steps necessary to Tom's emancipation, which was to be perfected as soon as he could get through the necessary formalities. [8] 

This paragraph shows how Augustine changed after Eva's death. He began to read the Bible, and think about his behaviors. He started to treat servants as human beings and give freedom to them.

Another scene that makes us think about the Bible is Eva's distribution of her lock of hair to everyone. This action represents the Christian act of communion. Eva gives her hair to show her love towards everyone. Although Eva died, her hair has a long-term influence. When we come to the later part of the novel, Tom has been beaten to death by Sambo and Quimbo, and Legree discovered the lock of hair in Tom's deathbed. Eva's hair, "like a living thing, twined itself round Legree's fingers [9] ". Legree is horrified, and the lock of hair is given a mysterious power. Sambo and Quimbo are converted upon Tom's death.

Here are Eva's words before her death:

"I want to give you something that, when you look at, you shall always remember me, I'm going to give all of you a curl of my hair; and, when you look at it, think that I loved you and am gone to heaven, and that I want to see you all there."

Eva gave her hair to everyone not only to show her love for them, but also to try to convert them to believe in God. Eva said she loved Christ and believed in him. The scene of Eva's death confirms the supposition that Eva is a little angel, and that she comes to the world to spread the beliefs of God. The last three words Eva says upon her death represent this the most. Love, joy and peace are the spirits of Christianity.

3. Comparison between Eliza and Eva

Through the analysis of Eliza and Eva above, we can see the similarities between them. Both of them have a deep love towards people around. Eliza bears a strong love for her son Harry, which encourages her to escape and struggle for freedom for her whole family. Eva's love is invested in herself by her love for Christ. Her love for Christ has led her to love everyone around her. Thus Topsy is successfully converted.

Both of them demonstrate the important spirit of love in the Bible. Yet in Eliza, there is a kind of defiance against the traditional love. Even though she loves her master and is loyal to him, she still chooses to save her son, when her master decides to sell Harry to the slave trader. This is slightly different from the Christian spirit of love, a universal love.