How is Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans a romantic work?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One aspect of Romanticism that shows up in The Last of the Mohicans is the idea of the Noble Savage. The Noble Savage was a "primitive" person who was inherently good and innocent because he had not yet been corrupted by civilization. In this Romantic idealization of the primitive, it...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

One aspect of Romanticism that shows up in The Last of the Mohicans is the idea of the Noble Savage. The Noble Savage was a "primitive" person who was inherently good and innocent because he had not yet been corrupted by civilization. In this Romantic idealization of the primitive, it is assumed that civilization is bad and a state of nature is good, a key Romantic concept.

Uncas, Chingachgook’s son, along with Chingachgook himself, the last of the Mohicans, are Noble Savages. Unlike Magua, they have not been corrupted by white civilization, and they maintain the purity of the Mohican traditions as well as exhibiting stoicism and courage. Both men have a oneness with nature that whites lack and both are proud of their unmixed Mohican blood.

Hawkeye, Natty Bumppo, is also an idealized character. Raised by the Indians, he understands their ways as most whites don't, although his blood too is pure. He has a "sturdy honesty" that makes him exemplary but is also a superb marksman and hunter. He is a good friend to Chingachgook.

These idealized characters give the novel much of its Romantic flavor, showing life not as it was but as readers of the nineteenth century might have liked it to be.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Last of the Mohicans is an 1826 novel by James Fenimore Cooper, and remains his best-known work. It was highly influential and is considered an essential work of American literature.

Romanticism, as differentiated from a story focusing on romance (see Romance Novel), is a literary and aesthetic technique that focuses on the emotion and feeling evoked by events and people; a sense of wonder and joy, or immensity of purpose, are central to many Romantic texts. Romanticism also places importance on unique or foreign ideas, and tradition as opposed to innovation.

The Last of the Mohicans contains many Romantic elements, from the base story about the wild, untamed Native Americans who fight against the expanding whites, to Hawkeye, a proud white who sympathizes with the Natives and helps them in their struggles. Hawkeye, who deliberately remains aloof from whites but still has prejudice against Natives, is an example of the Romantic hero, who acts on an unwritten moral code; although he is friends with Chingachgook, he does not begin to feel a deep connection to the Natives until the end of the book. The novel also contains many scenes of struggle, action, and adventure, all of which are Romantic in nature; the Fort William Henry Massacre in particular is an example of the constant peril all the protagonists face daily, which allows a great deal of focus on the heroism of Chingachgook and Hawkeye.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team