These essays are a Ramona  assignment from Diane’s American Literature Course.

Two books were written for similar reasons. One was to influence slavery, the other to influence the Indian’s problems in California. The first book was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The second is Ramona, written by Helen Hunt Jackson.  If a reader of these two classics wants to compare them, he might start by comparing conflicts, or how the authors wrote their conflicts. He could then look at the characters.  Last, he might see if the author’s type of writing appeals to the reader.    

Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote her book to influence the problem of slavery.  Helen Hunt Jackson, author of Ramona, wanted to influence the Indians’ problems in California, but the two authors went about it in two different ways. Harriet Beecher Stowe used her characters to build on the conflict.  In other words, she wrote about slavery, using fictitious characters to depict those who were actually suffering. In Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson used an additional conflict to build on her characters.  She wrote about her characters, then added on an additional slightly unnecessary conflict, making her characters more worried about this extra conflict rising up in their lives.    

In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe developed her characters very well.  She made them come alive by letting them show their qualities in their actions and speech.  Instead of giving them fairy tale lives, she gave them sorrows, but also joys.  Stowe gave her characters thoughts and feelings, making them very thorough and well-developed.  However, in Ramona, Jackson does not develop her characters very well.  She wrote in such a way that she told the reader everything. If Ramona was sweet, Jackson told the reader that, instead of writing in such a way that Ramona showed that quality with her thoughts or feelings.  She gave her characters qualities, but not in quite the same way as Stowe.  In conclusion, Jackson’s characters are rather shallow.   

In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, in the first page, she began developing her conflict.  The second page, the conflict is developed and her characters’ lives are about to be completely changed from how they used to be.  Though this may sound far-fetched, that is how Stowe writes.  She gets into the action right away.  Because action is often exciting, her type of writing is very appealing to her reader.  This is much different than Jackson. Jackson took a very long time to develop anything.  In fact, her main character is not introduced until chapter 3! The reader does not know what the conflict is for a very long time. Jackson’s type of writing is not unlike a soap opera.  All her characters are very dramatic, and tend to overdo on tears, gushing, etc.  For many readers, that is not exactly appealing.  

If the reader looks at all of these things, and compares the books, he may find he prefers Uncle Tom’s Cabin. However, he might, in spite of its faults, have enjoyed Ramona better.  Having compared the two books, by conflicts, characters, and types of writing, it is ultimately the reader’s choice of which one he preferred.  I preferred Uncle Tom’s Cabin over Ramona.

L.J.W. (13)

 

Helen Hunt Jackson published Ramona in 1889, and her purpose in writing it was to enlighten the American people to the plight of the Indians in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, much like the purpose of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was to convict the American people about the plight of the slaves.  However, while Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was extremely convincing, Jackson’s Ramona was not nearly as successful in its purpose.  Three reasons for this are: Jackson’s characters were shallow, while Stowe’s were strong; Ramona begins with happiness, whereas Uncle Tom’s Cabin began with heartbreak; and the Indian problem in Ramona was an aside to the love story, while the slavery problem in Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the focal point, and the characters’ lives and actions were an aside.    

One problem with Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona were its shallow characters.  The most developed character was not the main character, Ramona, but rather the “bad guy” of the story, the Senora. Also she described her characters extensively, rather than showing what they were like by their actions.  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, showed rather than told, in depth, its characters.  Rather than just a story, the characters came to life.  

Also, Ramona began happily.  Ramona, though she was an orphan and rather unloved, had a good life, and she was happy.  The story began nonchalantly, and the character of Ramona was not even introduced until chapter three.  On the other hand, Uncle Tom’s Cabin began almost immediately with heartbreak.  From the first chapter, the characters were in trouble.  

Lastly, the Indian problem was an aside to the love story between Ramona and Alessandro.  Rather than focusing on the Indian problem, and adding a bit of romance to lighten the story, Jackson wrote a romance with a few tragic problems, including the plight of the Indians.  Stowe wrote about the slavery problem, and added the characters to make the story real.  

Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona remains a classic, though it did not fulfill her purposes; whereas Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin also remains a classic and did fulfill her purpose for it.   

L.W. (15)

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin bringing to light the atrocities of the Southern slaves.  Thirty years later, Helen Hunt Jackson in an attempt to emulate Stowe, wrote Ramona in 1884. Jackson wrote Ramona to bring to light the mistreatment of Indians in California.  When you compare these two novels similarities and differences appear in the characters, theme, and impact of each.

In Helen Jackson’s novel Ramona, the main character, Ramona, was kind, wealthy, and pretty.  As described in the book, “There were a hundred that flashed with eager pleasure at the glimpse of Ramona’s face.” Ramona was content and never complained about the lack of love from her adoptive mother, the wealthy Señora.  Ramona was given many advantages in life.  

This compares to Uncle Tom in the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin who was also kind.  He demonstrated this by putting cotton in a fellow slave’s bag even though it meant being flogged.  He also persevered under hardships when he was sold to Simon Legree, one of the worst and brutal slave owners in the South.  Uncle Tom always believed and trusted in God, even after being severely beaten and flogged by Simon Legree.  Ramona and Uncle Tom had similarities in nature, but different status in society, one wealthy, one poor.

The main theme in Ramona is a forbidden love story between Ramona and the Indian Alessandro.  They eventually marry and run away.  Unfortunately, Alessandro is shot and killed, and Ramona finds love again with Felipe.  Jackson does little to focus on the Indian hardships.  The Indians and their plight became overshadowed by this love theme.  

However, Stowe stabs you in the heart by separating families with a dog drowning in the beginning of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Stowe focuses on the pain and suffering of the Southern black slaves.  Stowe creates an unforgettable image of inhuman treatment of one man to another.  The only love story in Uncle Tom’s Cabin was Tom’s love for God.  

Jackson wanted to impact society the same way Stowe had, in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Helen put her main focus on Ramona’s easy happy life, and spent little time on the hardships of the Indians.  So, people did not feel outraged like they did after reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Jackson made Ramona a beautiful, kind, happy, and content person to whom good things happened in life.  However, in Uncle Tom’s Cabin the women that were beautiful, had things happen to them, but they were not good things.  In Ramona, Helen made it feel like if you were pretty then good things happened to you.  Stowe, in her book, made you not want to be a pretty slave at all.  Because their focus was different, they accomplished different results.  Ramona is a classic love story, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a social-changing classic novel.  

It is obvious that there were similarities between the characters Ramona and Uncle Tom.  Also there were difference in theme and impact.  Jackson, though her novel is a classic, did not have the impact or greatness of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

B.B. (16)
Helen Hunt Jackson wrote Ramona in an attempt to bring to light the troubles the Indian people had to endure.  Also, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in an attempt to show the hardships the black slaves endured.  In comparing Ramona and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the similarities and differences were apparent in the characters, focus, and writing styles of these classic novels.  

To begin with, the main characters in both Ramona and Uncle Tom’s Cabin shared many similarities.  Helen Hunt Jackson, the author of Ramona, described Ramona as close to perfection.  Ramona was beautiful and showed humility as stated, “Never was a little child more unconscious of her beauty than Ramona was.”  Jackson described Ramona as kind and well-educated.  Ramona was a likable character.  Similarly, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom, was kind and well-educated for an African American slave of his time.  An example of Tom’s kindness was shown in his selfless act of filling a fellow slave’s basket with cotton, risking punishment. Uncle Tom’s beauty was an inner beauty reflecting his faith and love for God.  The similarities between these main characters were evident and each was likable.   

However, the focus, or the “big picture,” of each novel differed.  Jackson focused on the love between Ramona and the Indian Alessandro.  It followed the plot of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  Jackson wanted social justice for the Indians. Jackson’s purpose when writing Ramona was to follow in Stowe’s footsteps and imitate the impact Stowe made on black slaves except only with the Indians.  Stowe’s focus on the plight of black slaves was to reveal the horror of their lives  She delivered on her purpose and never veered from her goal with other themes.  It is obvious that though Jackson did not accomplish her purpose for the book, it was still worthy of being a classic. Stowe accomplished her purpose unforgettably.  

In regards to writing styles, Jackson did not develop her characters as well as Stowe.  Jackson told about the characters but did not paint a picture the reader could visualize.  In addition, it was hard to sympathize with Ramona and her life.  She was near perfect and she chose to leave her life of luxury for her love.  In contrast, Stowe vividly painted images of hardships that slaves endured.  Because of this her style of writing created a novel that brought about outrage and social change.  

It is apparent that these classic novels had similarities in characters and differences in focus and writing styles.  Jackson, though not as effective in her purpose as Stowe, wrote a quality love story that has remained a classic.  Stowe succeeded in her purpose and wrote an unforgettable novel.  To sum it up, Helen Hunt Jackson’s, Ramona raised eyebrows, but Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin started a war.  

G.B. (14)

 

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