Last of the Mohicans - Final

Last of the Mohicans - Final - Ashley Weeks HIST127: 001 M....

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Ashley Weeks HIST127: 001 M. Wolf November 7, 2007 The Last of the Mohicans as a Romantic Novel
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2 Romanticism was the artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that began in Germany during the late 18 th century and spread to the United States in the early 19 th century. Most commonly associated with the American Renaissance, Romanticism primarily viewed nature as a dynamic process, an idea supported by the works of such authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and James Fenimore Cooper (Wolf). As “the first great American novelist,” James Fenimore Cooper helped to create a “distinctively American literature” that became known as American Romanticism (Brinkley 304). Romantic sensibility rested on such ideas as the quest for meaning through the self and faith in inner experience, feeling and intuition over reason, individual freedom and worth, value of nature over artificial civilization, individual potential for creativity and expression, and distrust of progress (Wolf). The Last of the Mohicans , published in 1826, “examined the experience of rugged white frontiersmen with Indians,” evoking “the ideal of the independent individual with a natural inner goodness” (Brinkley 305). Although the novel was set in 1757, during the French and Indian War, it was written and published nearly seventy years later. Today, Cooper’s work helps historians better understand the cultural backdrop against which he wrote. The Last of the Mohicans emerged as a result of Enlightenment philosophy, westward expansion, and technological advances of Cooper’s time. American Romantics shunned the principle concept of Enlightenment philosophy: that of the power of human reason. Instead, Romantics embraced the principles of feeling and intuition, insisting that understanding does not require reason. By using disguises in the later chapters, Cooper moves away from realism in favor of imagination. Romantics also encouraged a quest for meaning through the self by placing faith in the inner experience. Although Cooper classifies characters by race, he also classifies them by those who respect the land and those who believe
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3 they can dominate the land. Hawkeye, although he is a white man, has developed an Indian’s sympathy for nature, allowing him to be successful in the wilderness. Also, Cooper implies that
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Last of the Mohicans - Final - Ashley Weeks HIST127: 001 M....

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