James Fenimore Cooper - The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans was published in 1826, just before James Fenimore Cooper left with his family for a seven-year visit to Europe. It was his sixth published novel, and became his most famous. There have been many film versions made, most recently that directed by Michael Mann in 1992, but most of them are not faithful to Cooper's plot. The novel has been translated into almost all world languages.
Cooper's novel is set in New York State in America in 1757, in the midst of the last so-called "French and Indian War" between England and France for control of the New World. It revolves about the historical capture of Fort William Henry, on Lake George in New York's Adirondack Mountains, by the French General Montcalm, and of the massacre of the surrendered British prisoners by Indians that followed the capture.
The novel is divided into three major segments: in the first an American serving with the British forces, Duncan Heyward, attempts to escort to Fort William Henry the commander's two daughters, Cora and Alice Munro. They are lead by the renegade Native American runner Magua, known as Le Renard Subtil (The Cunning Fox). They are rescued by the British Army Scout Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his Indian friends Chingachgook and Uncas, because find out that Magua is actually preventing progress of the expedition and is allied to the French.
The second portion tells of the siege and capture of Fort William Henry after the two girls have reached it. The power of the french army lead by General Montcalm is too mighty and General Munro must give up and hand over Fort William Henry to the french forces. General Munro is very remorseful, because he awaited the help of General Webb and his army.
In the third part, the british forces leave Fort William Henry and they are massacred by the indians lead by Magua, because these indians (they are on the french side) don’t accept the peace between the french and british forces. General Montcalm is very disappointed, because he is honest and he promised the security to british forces, if they give up. But he can’t do anything to help them. In this battle between british forces and indians Cora and Alice are kidnapped by Magua and they are carried off into the still pristine wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains, where groups of Delaware and Iroquois (Mingo) Indians contend for control. Duncan, Munro, Hawkeye, and the two Indians friends of Hawkeye pursue the kidnappers into the forests, for the final climax to the novel.
In the final climax, Hawkeye creeps up on the settlement of Iroquois and saves the daughters of general Munro. They escape to the settlement of Delawares. In the final battle between Iroquois and Delawares, Cora and Uncas are killed. Magua dies too. Although the Delawares won the battle, the end of the novel is very tearful. Everyone is very sad, because of Uncas’s and Cora’s death. Uncas was very important person for his tribe because he was the last headman of Mohicans. Cora was a very honest and brave young woman. That’s the reason, why everybody cries because of their death. The book is ended by a very sad speech said by Chingachgook.

Conclusion:
In telling this story, which Cooper intended as a serious novel, not just a story for boys, Cooper consideres four main themes: 1) The historical siege and surrender of Fort William Henry in 1757, and the massacre that followed; 2) the idea of the forest wilderness, ruled by the savage rules of guerrilla warfare, and which the European trained troops of the French and British are helpless (Duncan Heyward, the hero, receives his baptism of fire and his education into the new rules of the New World; 3) The American Indian - Cooper presents the first sympathetic treatment of the Native American as people with legitimate cultural values of their own.; 4) Problems between Indians and white colonialists.

My own opinion:
It was a really interesting reading. Although I’m not a heavy reader, this book caught me very much and I can support it to everyone, who wants to read a serious and thrilling book.

Main characters:
Positive:
Hawkeye –
Uncas –
Chingachgook –
Uncas –
Cora and Alice Munro –
General Munro –
Duncan Heyward –

Negative:
Magua –
All the Iroquois –

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  16. červen 2008
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