Cooper and Cole: Comments on the Power of Nature in The Last of the Mohicans

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Cooper and Cole: Comments on the Power of Nature in The Last of the Mohicans In the history of American literature, James Fenimore Cooper played a substantial role in the development of American fiction and the American character (McWilliams 20-21). During his own time, Cooper influenced public opinion on many important political issues, especially those relating to the Native Americans, and especially the Indian Removal controversy of the 1830s (McWilliams 84). Of all of his writings, however, The Last of the Mohicans, 1826, second of the Leatherstocking series, had and continues to have the greatest impact. TLOTM--never out of print, translated into almost every major language, the subject of four movies--is simply a novel that…show more content…
The first paragraph even suggests that the landscape and the Native American will lose this battle to the greed of foreign lands: there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe. (11) Probably because of his conception of the landscape as a character in TLOTM, Cooper "began to cultivate the art of landscape with a resourcefulness not evident in his earlier romances" (Nevius 14). Cooper's dramatic portrayal of landscape inspired various American painters interested in "conveying the immensity of unspoiled nature" (McWilliams 12), such as the Hudson River School--Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, Thomas Doughty, Frederick Church, Jasper Francis Cropsey. "As in many a Hudson River School painting, Cooper's novels repeatedly set up a character as the feeling observer of a landscape that is described in detail, either by the character or by the narrator" (McWilliams 29). And, I would like to argue that Thomas Cole, like Cooper, set up the American landscape as an important character in his imagining of the development of the American continent. Considered one of America's first great painters though he grew up in Britain, Cole was alarmed that industry would mar America's majestic landscape as it

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