Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorialism and the Early Feature Film

By Ben Brewster; Lea Jacobs | Go to book overview

Appendix:
Plot Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin

This summary follows the original novel, and the reader should be warned that the play and film versions discussed in Part 2 often more or less deviate from it.

Uncle Tom lives with his wife Chloe and children in Kentucky, where he is one of the most valued field slaves of the planter George Shelby. Shelby is unable to redeem a note that has fallen into the hands of the slave trader Haley, who forces him to sell Tom and little Harry, the son of Eliza Harris, Mrs Shelby's maid. Eliza's husband George has already fled the nearby plantation of a harsher master, and, overhearing the plans for the sale of her son, Eliza decides to take the boy and try to join George in his flight to Canada. She warns Tom, but he decides not to resist his master's decision. Eliza and Harry are pursued by Haley to the Ohio River, which is too iced up for a boat to get over. Cornered by Haley, Eliza crosses the river, leaping from floe to floe with Harry in her arms. She is taken in by Senator Bird and his wife, who help her contact an abolitionist rescue organization, through which she is able to join her husband and a Quaker guide on the trip north through Ohio to Lake Erie. Haley entrusts the search to a professional slave-hunter, Loker, and his associate, the lawyer, Marks, and returns to the Shelby plantation. When Loker catches up with the runaways, George shoots and wounds him, and the Harrises reach Canada safely.

Tom says goodbye to his family and to Shelby's son, who swears to redeem him when he grows up. Haley takes Tom and sets off on a steamer down the Mississippi to New Orleans where he plans to sell him. Tom meets Eva, the little daughter of Augustine St Clare, who is returning home to New Orleans with his daughter and her aunt Ophelia, a Yankee hostile to slavery. Tom rescues Eva when she falls overboard, and, at Eva's request, St Clare buys him. He becomes the family's coachman. St Clare also buys Ophelia a slave child, Topsy, to test her abolitionist sentiments. Topsy is a thief and liar, impervious to Ophelia's moral suasion, and only corrigible by Eva's love. Eva sickens and dies, extracting from her father the promise to free his slaves. Before he can do so, St Clare is killed trying to prevent a duel. Tom is put up for auction with the rest of the slaves, except Topsy, who returns to Vermont with Ophelia, where she is set free.

Tom and a young girl, Emmeline, are bought by a dissolute Red River planter, Simon Legree. On his plantation, Legree tries to install Emmeline as his mistress, but she is protected by her forerunner, Cassy, whom Legree fears as a witch. Legree tries to force Tom to whip a sick slave woman, Lucy, who brings short weight of cotton to the weighing house, and has Tom beaten senseless by his overseers, Sambo and Quimbo, when he refuses. Cassy and Emmeline outwit Legree and flee the plantation. In an attempt to get him to reveal their whereabouts, Legree tortures Tom to death.

Shelby's son arrives too late to save Tom's life, but hears his dying words, and buries him. Cassy and Emmeline reach Canada and encounter the Harrises. It is discovered that Eliza is Cassy's long lost daughter. As the novel ends, the Harrises are setting out for a new life in Liberia.

-217-

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Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorialism and the Early Feature Film
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Molly's Book v
  • Preface vi
  • Contents ix
  • Technical Note xi
  • 1: Introductory 1
  • Chapter 1: Pictures 3
  • Chapter 2: Situations 18
  • 2: The Tableau 33
  • Chapter 3 the Stage Tableau in Uncle Tom's Cabin 37
  • Chapter 4: The Fate of the Tableau in the Cinema 48
  • 3: Acting 79
  • Chapter 5: Pictorial Acting in the Theatre 85
  • Chapter 6: Pictorial Styles and Film Acting 99
  • Chapter 7 the Pictorial Style in European Cinema 111
  • 4: Staging 139
  • Chapter 8: Pictorial Staging in the Theatre 145
  • Chapter 9: The Cinematic Stage 164
  • Chapter 10: Staging and Editing 188
  • Conclusion 212
  • Appendix: Plot Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin 217
  • Bibliography 219
  • Filmography 229
  • Index 233
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