Discuss the various roles played by nature in The Last of the Mohicans.

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Payal Khullar | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Nature plays a significant role in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. In fact, the setting of the entire novel is the natural landscape of the New World. Cooper depicts nature as wild, mysterious, untamed, dynamic, violent, destructive, and inescapable. He also tries to present a contrast between nature and civilization, and, as we shall see, his preference is definitely the “Nature”. The characters like Hawkeye, Uncas, Chingachgook and Magua have a deep understanding of the nature and the landscape of the New World as compared to the Englishmen. The Englishmen are not used to the kind of troubles that the hostile, unfriendly land brings to them back to back. We also know that the French men are privileged in the war as compared to Englishmen because they have the support of American Indians (who have a native knowledge about the natural landscape). Characters like Heyward, Alice and Cora seem to be helpless and troubled because of their limited knowledge about nature. Magua easily cheats and misguides them in the forest. Colonel Munroe’s sophisticated methods of fighting are of no use in the forest. He must take the help of Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook to free Alice and Cora. Hence, "Nature" plays a very powerful and destructive role in The Last of the Mohicans. On a metaphoric level, this novel talks about the invasion of natural landscape of the New World by the civilized Europeans as unfavorable. Nature, in this way, is represented as pure and uncorrupted.

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