The Last of the Mohicans by Cooper: Introduction

James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of The Mohicans in 1826 which was set in the time of 1757 in American Frontier. The frontier is a place of primitive and primeval forest, mountain, caves and waterfalls. A sort of pristine beauty envelopes the frontier.

James Fenimore Cooper

The frontier is not wholly free. It is pervaded with a constant potential threat from its terrain and its native Indians. The Frontier is described as a place of metaphysical importance as well. Man can be a deist in frontier if he allows religion to be revealed to him through nature. It constantly negates the sacred writing as a token of religion essential for the progress of mankind. The time in which the novel is set is the time of the American pre-revolution. At that time white men were exploiting and ruthlessly pushing westward. Another integral part of the setting is the conflicting and violent atmosphere in which the white Europeans were displacing and dispossessing the native tribes. The atmosphere of the novel 'The Last of the Mohicans' is the atmosphere of conquest and dispossession.

It is doubtless true that the novel is grounded in a set of historical facts and veracity. To highlight the grim and grotesque historical reality regarding conflict on the frontier is the ultimate purpose of the novel. It seems the novel foregrounds the bloody massacre and violence, which broke out on the frontier. Beneath this representation of the violence and warfare on the frontier runs in parallel way the growing romantic relationship between Alice and Heyward, and between Uncas and Cora. Cooper does not build up the romantic fondness explicitly and initially. That is why the romantic mood of the novel remains half invisible before the apparently visible form of adventure narrative of the novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Most of the historical realities associated with those frontier clashes have entered into the narrative of The Last of the Mohicans. History can't get trapped in these frontier clashes. History needs an outlet, a progressive outlet. To put forward the idea of historical progress. Cooper has created a mythical hero 'Hawkeye'. Hawkeye is of the view that if either tribe or race respect the other self, the tribe, and race, the conflict does not arise. Furthermore, the racial conflict can be diminished greatly if a young man marries a woman from another race and culture.

The novel, The Last of the Mohicans, draws on the elements of sentimental novel. One of heroine of the novel Alice faints quickly in the wake of any fearful moment. Another heroine Cora is greater than Alice in terms of the power to retain the presence of mind in wake of violent and fearful moment. The easy and quick habit to faint in the event of fearful and violent moment frequently occurs in sentimental novel. This sentimental trend is followed by Alice frequently. She is the only one character who fell swooning whenever Hayward-led group faced violent confrontation.

If scene of deaths, murders, violence and massacre recurrently happen in the narrative, this narrative is called the gothic narrative, There is the domination of gothic elements in The Last of the Mohicans. The frontier is itself gothic in the intensity of its atmosphere. The bloodiest massacre at the fort of William Henry and the fatal tragic death of Cora and Uncas is suggestive of gothic pang.