Comment on the Romantic quality within The Last of the Mohicans.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most distinct qualities of Romanticism that Cooper highlights is the idea of understanding the connection between the past, the present, and the future.  The very idea of "the last" of a group or a tribe is a Romantic ideal. It seeks to link the individual back to generations that have already come and gone.  Romanticism sought to link the present to the past, almost suggesting that there is an indelible connection between the two.  The modern individual is not alone in their consciousness, something that is illuminated in the text: "When Uncas follows in my footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the sagamores, for my boy is the last of the Mohicans." The idea of heritage and linkage between the past and the present is a Romantic quality that is at the forefront of Cooper's work.

The death of the tribe and the corruption that modern society possesses is another Romantic quality that is illuminated in the work.  White interaction with the Mohicans has been destructive and has hastened their elimination.  "Conventional" and "conformist" society is seen as bad, something to be repelled in the name of that which exists outside of it.  This is a Romantic trait that Cooper holds to in the narrative's development.  The narrative is told with this reality in mind:  "The pale faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the redmen has not come again. My day has been too long ... I have lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans."  This is Romantic in scope because it seeks to glorify that which is passing.  Cooper demonstrates a Romantic nostalgia for what has succumbed to modern society and modernization.  This is a Romantic quality that drives the text, one that becomes a "tribute to the vanishing cultures of the Native Americans."

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The Last of the Mohicans

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