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The Last of the Mohicans: Life, Race, and Human Relations

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Essay title: The Last of the Mohicans: Life, Race, and Human Relations

The major theme of Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans in relation to the allegoric nature of the novel's climax and to its denouement is the lesson of revenge. The antagonist of the novel, Magua, was a former soldier in Munro's army. During that time his taste for whisky, or “firewater”, causes him to be punished by a brutal horsewhipping and he looses his dignity. This dent to the pride of Magua sets him on the path of the declared vengeance towards Colonel Munro and his bloodline in his two daughters. Cooper brings the reader down the twisted path of revenge with Magua. It will be up to the fortitude of two daughters and two sons to outlast Magua’s lust for retribution. The children of Colonel Monro and Chingachgook, the noble Mohican father, strive at every attempt to serve notice to Magua that revenge is never a straight line.

The protagonist of the novel is no single person, but rather a group of the good characters consisting of a British Major Duncan, the frontier scout Hawkeye, the British daughters Cora and younger Alice, Uncas, Chingachgook, and David. Each of these characters proved throughout the novel to be brave and loyal to each other. The antagonist, Magua, wishes to capture Munro’s daughters and make Cora his wife in order to fulfill his revenge on the man that has previously mistreated him. Unfortunately for Magua, the protagonists had formed their tight nit group and fought off him and the Huron tribe with courage and triumph. Because of the protagonist’s efforts and success, Magua’s plan of revenge on Colonel Munro is continually ruined, and therefore they too became a mission of Magua’s vengeance.

The climax of The Last of the Mohicans occurs in Chapter 32. After a fierce battle in which the protagonists and the Delawares defeat Magua and the Hurons, Magua and two of his men escape with Cora and are tracked to the edge of a cliff. When Cora refuses to continue on and with revenge still running hot through his blood, Magua demands of Cora to “chose; the wigwam or the knife of Le Subtil!” (p. 349) As he hesitantly raises the blade, Uncas leaps at him causing Magua to step back. At the same moment that Magua steps back, one of his assisting Hurons stabs Cora in the chest and kills her. Uncas kills Cora's assailant before being stabbed in the chest three times by Magua and then falling dead at his feet. “Magua uttered a cry so fierce, so wild, and yet so joyous, that it conveyed the sounds of savage triumph to the ears of those who fought in the valley, a thousand feet below.” (p. 350) Here Magua is blinded by his taste for revenge and is taking such pride and joy in the fact that he has accomplished his long sought after mission to destroy both Colonel Munro as well as one of the protagonists. It is only that much sweeter to Magua that the protagonist he was able to kill was Uncas, the last of the Mohicans. “Before taking the leap, however, the Huron paused, and shaking his hand at the scout, he shouted, --‘The pale-faces are dogs! The Delewares women! Magua leaves them on the rocks, for the crows!’” (p. 351) Because of his hatred that he has acquired from his revenge, his is still mocking his enemies while attempting to flee from them with his life. While leaping away and mocking his enemies, he loses his step and nearly falls off one cliff, but manages to hang onto a shrub on its edge. Just as he is recovering, however, Hawkeye raises the muzzle of “Killdeer” and shoots Magua, causing him to slip to his death. Instead of letting go of the hatred and vengeance towards Munro and moving on to live his life on the land in peace with his tribe, Magua made it his vowed promise to make Munro pay for the pain he inflicted on Magua. This vengeance was accomplished, but to what avail? He not only caused the death and pain among his loathed protagonists, but also to his own tribe including himself.

Although the main theme for the climax of the novel is a lesson on revenge, there are other minor themes throughout the novel regarding life, race, and human relations. The main lesson on life that can be gained here would be that life is hard, short and precious. You should never take for granted each moment you have and we should all live our lives to their fullest, while at the same time being brave and honorable. There is great power in Cooper’s words about frontier life in 1750’s Americas. This way of living is shown through all of the protagonist’s characters. Each of them shows most of, if not all of the character traits of love, loyalty, bravery, and heroism. Cooper not only creates the characters that each of us should pride ourselves to imitate their example, but he also demonstrates the character that is far from the model that you would want for morals and values. Magua’s character lived his life with anger and revenge in his heart, causing him

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