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Magua, the Byronic Hero of The Last of the Mohicans

Magua, the Byronic Hero of The Last of the Mohicans

Traditionally, heroes represented the ideal member of society, reflecting the moral compass of a culture. The “last great heroic tradition in our literature,” the Byronic hero, rebels against society, questioning morality (Thorslev 185). The modern hero, or anti-hero, internalizes the struggle for reconciliation. Traditional heroes represent social order, Byronic heroes represent social rebellion, and modern heroes represent social upheaval. The melancholic, brooding, isolated Byronic hero thrives on rebellion, the traditional hero flourishes on optimistic goodness, and the modern hero grasps for purpose. Samuel Taylor Coleridge criticizes the “savage grandeur” of the rebellious Byronic hero (400). Magua, of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, presents fierce rebellion and indeed rises to “savage grandeur.” The feared and scorned Magua represents an American version of the Byronic hero, seemingly presenting antithetical qualities of a traditional hero, exemplified in the Anglo-Saxon epic hero, Beowulf.

Representing the best their societies have to offer, traditional heroes possess characteristics of honor, bravery, loyalty, and steadfastness. They personify communal values and offer a reason to believe in the possibility of a meaningful life in an ordered, harmonious society. The epic hero journeys on a quest, experiencing difficulties along the way, and triumphantly returns to society. An example of a traditional hero, Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic hero, relies on his courage, intelligence, and superhuman strength as he slays the destructive forces that threatens the community. He accepts and embraces the social values, never questioning or …

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…York: Doubleday, 1977.

Coleridge. Samuel Taylor. “The Statesmanâs Manual.” 1816. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams. 6th ed. Vol.2. New York: Norton, 1993. 398-400.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Gross, Theodore L. The Heroic Ideal in American Literature. New York: Free Press, 1971.

Lieber, Todd. Endless Experiments: Essays on the Heroic Experience in American Romanticism. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1973.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams. 6th ed. Vol.2. New York: Norton, 1993. 480.

The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Margaret Drabble. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985.

Thorslev, Peter L. Jr. The Byronic Hero. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1962.

Wilson, James D. The Romantic Heroic Ideal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1982

Deism and Changes in Religious Tolerance in America

Deism and Changes in Religious Tolerance in America

Religious conscience in America has evolved considerably since the first settlers emigrated here from Europe. Primary settlements were established by Puritans and Pilgrims who believed “their errand into the wilderness [America] was above all else a religious errand, and all institutions – town meeting, school, church, family, law-must faithfully reflect that fact” (Gaustad 61). However, as colonies grew, dissenters emerged to challenge Puritan authority; indeed, many of them left the church to join untraditional religious sects such as “the Ranters, the Seekers, the Quakers, the Antinomians, and the Familists” (Westbrook 26). Debates over softening the stance on tolerance in the church engendered hostility in many religious leaders, priming some officials to take action. Whether it was in direct response to “the liberalizing tendencies beginning to take hold in some [. . .] New England churches” (Westbrook 65), or a “reaction against the attempt in the Age of Reason to reduce Christian doctrine to rationalistic explanation” (“Great Awakening”), the Great Awakening impressed upon the issues of religious conscience. Moreover, what spawns from this controversy is a query over the juxtaposition of morality and spirituality: the question of whether these conditions are actually related. The gradual escalation of unconventional thinking in religious affairs facilitated new ideas on what defined spirituality; one religious theory, boosted by Thomas Paine and his book, The Age of Reason, denounced both Christianity and Atheism, proposing instead, a new concept: the middle path of Deism.

As a progressive religious view rising in popularity during the middle of the e…

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…ns, it is quite possible that American’s would not have religious freedom today.

Works Cited

Gaustad, Edwin S., ed. A Documentary History of Religion in America to the Civil War. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1982.

“Great Awakening.” Colliers Encyclopedia. 1996 ed.

Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason. Ed. Moncure Daniel Conway. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1930.

Richmond, B.A. “Deism: It’s History, Beliefs,

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