Chapter 19 (in which nothing much plot-wise happens) puts forth the theory that the real problem is not the abuse of slavery, but the institution of slavery. I know that H. B. Stowe uses the entire book as as platform to discuss slavery-related issues, but I think that maybe while writing Chapter 19, she really expresses her personal feelings through the dialogue between Miss Ophelia and St. Claire. I can almost picture her scribbling furiously at her writing desk, ignoring all impending calamity from her many children, and letting her frustration out. Listen to the following quotes – don’t you just hear the voice of Harriet?
(speaking of slavery) Planters, who have money to make by it, clergymen, who have planters to please, politicians who want to rule by it, may warp and bend language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at their ingenuity; they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody knows what else, into the service; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more. It comes from the devil, that’s the short of it; and, to my mind, it’s a pretty respectable specimen of what he can do in his own line.
Talk of the abuses of slavery! Humbug! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse!
….there have been times when I have thought, if the whole country would sink, and hide all this injustice and misery from the light, I would willingly sink with it.
Are you such a sweet innocent as to suppose nobody in this world ever does what they don’t think is right?
One thing is for certain – Harriet Beecher Stowe was extremely passionate about the topic of slavery. She managed to write a book that shows slavery from all possible angles, and must have left every reader either furious, guilty or resolved. It would be impossible, in my opinion, to read this book and not be very moved.