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