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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Pulitzer prize winner, Margo Jefferson (1995) wrote that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s literary gifts extend beyond the political effect that her works had.  Even “when she is bad she still manages to be riveting,” Jefferson wrote, forgiving Stowe’s sometimes careless and self-conscious literary techniques, in favor of her ability as a master storyteller. Above all, a novelist must be a good teller of tales, and Stowe was a good storyteller. First and foremost, the reading audience must be entertained. Yet, Knight felt that many critics could not see beyond Stowe’s “unpolished style” and sentimentalism.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Stowe’s greatest novel and perhaps one of the greatest novels of all time earns those distinctions for a number of reasons. Her treatment of thematic material was nothing less than expert. Wagenknecht recognized that the issue of antislavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is foundational for Stowe to introduce other, more universal problems. Again, critics from Stowe’s time and up to our own time, often miss the value of Stowe’s universal appeal. Millions upon millions of readers have not read Stowe’s most famous work just because it is about slavery, but because it touches places in the hearts and minds of everyone, provides awareness of appalling social issues, and delivers a call for responsiveness, both responsible and loving, to the ills of societies everywhere.

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