A Feminist Reading of The Last of the Mohicans Essay

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A Feminist Reading of The Last of the Mohicans

While most often studied as a romance or adventure novel, the most dominant characteristic of The Last of the Mohicans is overlooked: phallicism. From this phallicism stems Cooper's patriarchal view of society. In the novel, men are symbolically set apart from women by the possession of weapons (the phallic symbol), and men are separated from one another by the size of their weapons. The more powerful the men are those bearing the larger, longer weapons. The main character, Hawk-eye, possesses "...a rifle of great length..." (32). Indeed, the rifle is so long, and so deadly in the scout's hands (he has "...a natural turn with a rifle..."), that he is given the name of 'La Longue
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Last is David Gamut, the least manly of the bunch. Instead of carrying a weapon, he has a terribly small pitch pipe, symbolically slating him as unmanly, and unable to protect women. Continuing the phallic imagery, the women have no weapons and no power, and must look to men for protection.

As the man with the biggest and most deadly gun, the scout serves as the main patriarchal protector in the story. All is well in the story when the scout has 'Kill-deer' in his hands. When he and his Mohican compatriots help to save Heyward's party from an Iroquois ambush, their safety is never in question until the scout runs out of powder for his gun. Then all is lost, and Hawk-eye, disappointed, drops "...the useless piece in utter disappointment" (89). Once 'Kill-deer' is gone, the whites are at the mercy of the savages. Without his gun, the scout can not even protect himself, and so he and the Mohicans must escape while Heyward's party is left to be captured by the Indians.

Not long passes, however, before the scout is reunited with his rifle. As he and the Mohicans follow the savage party (without their guns), they are forced to "...crawl, like sarpants" (142), and not like men. Finally, they pounce on the group, and the scout immediately goes for his gun. He gets it, and "...too eager to load the rifle he had regained..." (---), he saves the day.

At the fort, the scout and his gun are once again separated

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