Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Glimmerglass Lake

Glimmerglass Lake. Imaginary lake closely modeled on the real Lake Otsego, near Cooperstown in upstate New York. Glimmerglass plays a complex role in The Deerslayer. On a basic level, it displays rare and unspoiled beauty. Its shimmering waters, dazzling sunlit and starry skies, and lush overhanging trees provide solace, solitude, and beauty for humans weary of the world or hoping to escape detection. The lake offers a wilderness unspoiled by humans, an environmental paradise.

As the name “Glimmerglass” suggests, the lake is a mirror of the universe. It reflects not only the Milky Way, but also the spiritual and moral aspects of God. For Deerslayer, the frontiersman who is a man of “white blood and white gifts,” the air is God’s “breath, and the light of the sun is little more than a glance of His eye.” God is not only the creator, but is an immanent presence. Similarly for his Native American friend Chingachgook, with his red gifts, the Great Spirit is everywhere: in the lake, in the forest, in the clouds. The lake is a temple of God’s creation but also an embodiment of God himself.

As an embodiment of God, the lake provides instruction, especially in a moral sense. If this book of nature is read correctly, it nurtures religion, morality, love, and education. Deerslayer and Chingachgook both believe this, as does Chingachgook’s love, the Indian maiden Wah-ta-Wah. In an eloquent passage she refuses to leave Chingachgook and her own people, comparing a woman to the honeysuckle, the robin, and the willow, all of which thrive only in their natural environments. Nature is thus emblematic of the way people ought to live their lives. For Deerslayer, nature is his most loving and faithful companion. When Judith coyly asks him where his sweetheart is, he replies...

(The entire section is 753 words.)