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A Feminist Reading of The Last of the Mohicans

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 Carabine’ by his enemies. The scout symbolizes the greatest male power in the novel, and he is therefore the greatest protector of the women as well.

As the size of the weapons of the other characters decreases, so too does their generative power. Only slightly shorter than the scout in weapon length are Uncas and Chingachgook, who, while carrying knives, also brandish long hunting rifles. Uncas is the closest to the scout in length, for he carries his former rifle-hearing a shot in the woods, the scout recognizes the shot of Uncas, saying ” ‘…I carried the gun myself until a better offered'” (230). Thus even though Uncas possesses a weapon of substantial length, he still comes up a bit short when compared with the scout. Next on the list of length is Duncan Heyward, who begins the novel carrying a mere pistol, grows in generative power as the story progresses-near the end of the novel he shows he can handle a hunting rifle almost as well as the scout. When the group first leaves …

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…weapon…drawn to his shoulder,” the scout preserves the honor of all by killing Magua with a blast from ‘Kill-deer’ (401).

In this novel overflowing with phallic imagery, it is clear that power lies in weapons, and size does matter. Without weapon, Gamut protects no one. Heyward only begins to wield power when he exchanges pistol for rifle. Although a valiant warrior, even Uncas dies after abandoning his rifle. Conversely, Chingachgook keeps his weapon, and remains alive. And Hawk-eye, the most powerful protector, is only vulnerable when he does not have ‘Kill-deer’ in his hands. In Cooper’s patriarchal society, the man with the longest gun is the man who saves the day. When the big gun is gone, however, all of society is vulnerable.

Work Cited:

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans. NY: Signet Classic, 1962.

The Death Penalty is An Effective Weapon Against Crime

For years now the Americans have debated over the issue of capital punishment. Many people believe that it no longer serves out its intended purpose of deterring crime. Others believe that the death penalty is an inhumane act of violence and that it should be banished from the justice system all together. The thought of playing God also is another aspect of the situation. Despite these allegations however, the facts still remain. The death penalty deters crime, stops repeat offenders, and gives Americans a real sense that justice has been served, and should therefore remain legal and in practice.

Despite recent ridiculing of capital punishment, the sentence has popular and political support. A poll in a 1997 Time magazine stated that seventy-four percent of those surveyed were in favor of the death penalty (Schonebaum 6). Many of these supporters believe that capital punishment deters crime. Deterrence is the idea that the threat of punishment must be severe enough to counter the pleasures that the criminal would receive from committing the crime (Harries 11). Even if a person gathers that capital punishment does in fact deter crime, they are left pondering if the death penalty is a more effective deterrent than life imprisonment.

The easiest way to consider capital punishment as a more effective deterrent than life imprisonment would be to use common sense. “People fear death more than life in prison” (Schonebaum 8). Once a criminal is sentenced to death, they go through numerous appeals in order to try and reduce their sentence down to life imprisonment. This would lead a person to believe that they fear the death sentence more than the life sentence. Generally speaking, the thing that people…

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…ital Punishment: Give It a Chance.” 16 October 1998. 3 March 2000 .

Gow, Haven Bradford. “Not Applying the Death Penalty is Cruel, Immoral, and Unjust.” Human Events Vol. 52 Issue 45 (26 Nov. 1996): 22.

Haag, Ernest van den. “The Death Penalty May Save Innocent Lives.” Schonebaum 53-55.

Harries, Keith, and Derral Cheatwood. The Geography of Execution. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 1997.

Miller, Amy. “Death Penalty: Right or Wrong?” Junior Scholastic Vol. 101 Issue 15 (22 Mar.1999): 6-8.

Schonebaum, Stephen E. “Introduction.” Schonebaum 6-9.

Schonebaum, Stephen E., ed. Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime? San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press Inc., 1998.

Vila, Bryan, and Cynthia Morris, eds. Capital Punishment In The United States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997.

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