What are three characteristics of American Romanticism in The Last of the Mohicans?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples of American Romanticism (a version of the English Romantic movement that occurred some years earlier) in James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans.

"Shuns civilization and seeks nature" is seen with the character of Hawkeye. He has a close alliance with certain Native American tribes, however, he is a white man who has chosen to live in the wilderness rather than amid "civilized white men." And while it is important that he maintain his identity as a white man, he finds his strongest friendship with Chingachgook, the "last of the Mohicans."

Hawkeye also embodies the characteristic of "fights for individual's freedom and worth." He fights to save Alice and Cora from Magua. He also helps others of their group escape not only from the Indians (i.e. Major Heyward), but also from the French (i.e. Colonel Munro).

"Finds beauty and truth in supernatural or imaginative realms" also applies to Hawkeye. Whereas Gamut is a religious man, he is ineffective in the wilderness. Hawkeye is not religious in terms of organized religion: he may actually be seen as a pagan in light of this. However, ironically, it is Hawkeye's ability to find beauty and truth in nature that makes him a much more spiritual person than David Gamut. Hawkeye is also a superstitious man, which would bring to light the "imaginative realms" in his system of belief.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three characteristics of Romanticism in the novel are nostalgia, individualism, and connection to nature. One of the hallmarks of Romanticism in literature is a yearning for the past and for what is authentic. The Last of the Mohicans is nostalgic about the past and about the time when Mohicans were plentiful. As the last Mohican alive, Chingachgook is a Romantic figure who embodies the idea of the "noble savage." He is at home with nature and the natural world and represents the romantic ideal of someone who was a remnant of the past.

Natty Bumppo, known as Hawkeye, is a Romantic character because he is a rugged individualist who lives according to his own sense of what is right and how he feels. He befriends Native American people, showing his connection to a people who are pure and closely connected to nature. He lives in harmony in the natural world, another hallmark of Romanticism. He is not subject to the laws of civilization but lives according to his own sense of morality, making him a truly Romantic figure. 

kdm525 | Student

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The Last of the Mohicans

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