Term Paper: Last of the Mohicans

Pages: 5 (1446 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] In the book, however, Cora dies in the end.

It is important to understand here that Cooper's reasons for killing Cora were deeper than they appeared in the book. Cora was more fearless and independent than her sister Alice and slightly less feminine. The author however preferred woman more docile and therefore chooses to assign a tragic fate to Cora while Alice "lives happily ever after" (p. 372) Critics agree that since Cooper belonged to the pre-women liberation period, he couldn't come to terms with women like Cora. In fact he appears to resist their independence as he consistently insists upon calling them 'females' and not even women.

Nina Baym argues that the Cooper's main reason of assigning less powerful roles to women was his rejection of the idea of women's liberation. "He is resisting or rejecting the fantasy of women's novels that women's elevated place in white society is a function of a spiritual power by which male physical force can be countered, contained, and even disarmed.... [The Last of the Mohicans] denies that women have influenced world or national events and uses the romanticizing of American Indians in women's novels as evidence of their unfitness for the cultural power to which they were apparently aspiring" (22, 25).

Another very important difference is the complete absence of David Gamut from the movie. This character played an important role in the novel and was one of the very few characters that evolved over the course of the story. He was described in rather derogatory terms in the beginning of the novel:

His head was large; his shoulders narrow; his arms long and gangling; while his hands were small if not delicate. His legs and thighs were thin, nearly to emaciation, but of extraordinary length; and his knees would have been considered tremendous, had they not been outdone by the broader foundations on which this false superstructure of blended human orders was so profanely reared." (Chapter 1)

Over the course of the novel, David Gamut's character undergoes crucial transformation and can be used to explain the main message of the book, which appears: 'what makes a man is not his physical strength alone but his ability to face challenges courageously whether physical or emotional' I fail to understand why this important character was completely removed from the movie even though he was present in older cinematic versions of Last of the Mohicans.

Thus in short, there are many differences between the book and the movie and Herndl (2001) summarizes them in these words:

As anyone knows who has both read the novel and seen the film, the plot of Mann's film bears only a slim resemblance to the plot of the novel. Natty Bumppo, the misanthropic loner whose racial background is emphatically "without a cross" in the novel, becomes Nathaniel Poe, ladies' man, who is still white, but dresses like an Indian and claims the Mohicans as his people and his family. Duncan Heyward is neither a future leader nor a Scot, but becomes an Englishman who is martyred to save Nathaniel and Cora. The romantic "marriage" subplot which is so minor in the novel changes to the major attraction of the film: Nathaniel and Cora fall in love; Uncas's secret love for the "dark" (but now unquestionably white) Cora is converted to an acknowledged infatuation with the child-like blonde Alice; and Cora and Alice switch places -- now Cora is the true republican mother and Alice the victim."

These glaring differences alter the entire storyline but surprisingly manage to keep Cooper's vision and basic themes intact. The credit for the preservation of Cooper's vision and message goes to director's skillful depiction of key themes. In other words, while Mann changed many things in the movie, he tried to remain close to the core idea of the book and did not alter the elements that had a profound impact on Cooper's vision.


Herndl, Diane Style and the Sentimental Gaze in The Last of the Mohicans.(Critical Essay) Date: 10/01/2001; Publication: Narrative;

Novak, Ralph, People Weekly; (movie reviews) Date: 10/05/1992;

Alleva, Richard, Movie review, Commonweal; 12/18/1992;

Baym, Nina.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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