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The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper

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Magua

Magua

Magua, an Indian of the Huron tribe, plays the crafty villain to Hawkeye’s rugged hero. Because of his exile by Colonel Munro, Magua seeks revenge. He does not want to do bodily harm to Munro but wants to bruise the colonel’s psyche. Magua has a keen understanding of whites’ prejudices, and he knows that threatening to marry the colonel’s daughter will terrify Colonel Monroe. Magua’s threat to marry a white woman plays on white men’s fears of interracial marriage. When Magua kidnaps Cora, the threat of physical violence or rape hangs in the air, although no one ever speaks of it. Whereas the interracial attraction between Uncas and Cora strikes us as sweet and promising for happier race relations in the future, the violent unwanted advances of Magua to Cora show an exaggerated fulfillment of white men’s fears. However, while anger originally motivates Magua, affection eventually characterizes his feelings for Cora. He refuses to harm her, even when in one instance his actions put himself in danger. Magua’s psychology becomes slightly more complicated by the end of the novel, when sympathy tempers his evil.

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