James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans remains a highly regarded historical account of colonization in the Americas and the effects of European migration on the indigenous population. While commonly studied in the classroom, Cooper’s work has also been adapted for the stage, opera, and film, most famously in the 1992 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
‘Death and honour are thought to be the same, but today I have learned that sometimes they are not.’
Set in frontier America in the midst of the French-Indian war, as the French are attempting to overthrow an English fort, Cooper’s story follows Alice and Cora Munro, pioneer sisters who are trying to find their way back to their father, an English commander. Guided by an army major and Magua, an Indian from the Huron tribe, they soon meet Hawk-eye, a frontier scout and his Mohican Indian companions Chingachgook and Uncas.
Magua is not all that he seems and the sisters are kidnapped. In The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper sets Indian tribe against Indian tribe and lays bare the brutality of the white man against the Mohicans.