The Last of The Mohicans: Character Profiles
Chingachgook: Chingachgook is the last of the great Mohican chiefs. His name means “Big Serpent,” or “Great Snake,” which according to Hawkeye means that he understands the “windings and turnings” of human nature. Chingachgook is a reliable ally and friend of Hawkeye, capable in battle, stern, and always remaining dignified and calm, even in the most dangerous situations. He takes part in the final battle with the Hurons, only to see his son Uncas killed by Magua.
David Gamut: David Gamut is the tall, ungainly, pious singing teacher from Connecticut who accompanies Hawkeye’s party. David is a Calvinist who believes in the doctrine of predestination—the notion that who is to be saved and who damned has already been decreed by God. David teaches sacred music to youths, but Hawkeye has no time for his songs and thinks he should have a real profession. David is not a fighting man but he survives the Huron attacks because he has a habit of singing in situations of danger. The Hurons therefore regard him as insane, and do not harm him. David does exhibit some noble qualities. He is prepared to risk danger by taking the place of the captured Uncas in the Indian lodge, and in the final battle he expresses his wish to do his part, using his sling.
Hawkeye: Hawkeye’s full name is Natty Bumppo, although he is never called by that name in this novel. His friends call him Hawkeye. Hawkeye is a strongly built white hunter and scout with a fearsome reputation amongst his Indian enemies, who call him “La Longue Carabine,” which is French for “the long rifle.” Hawkeye is an experienced, independent, astute man, who knows the wilderness like the back of his hand. He is endlessly resourceful, leaving Cora and Alice to get help when that was the only way to proceed, and then returning and successfully ambushing the Hurons. It is Hawkeye’s cunning plan to disguise himself in an Indian medicine man’s bearskin that leads to the freeing of Alice from the Huron village.
Hawkeye is honest but can be guileful when the situation demands it. He sometimes expresses a pantheistic philosophy that shows his love of nature, and this is contrasted with the religious piety of David Gamut. Hawkeye is a also a veteran fighter who has taken part in many battles with the French and the Indians. Although he has a generally low opinion of Indians, Hurons especially, he likes Mohicans and Delawares, whom he regards as more honest. He has a deep, long-standing friendship with the two Mohicans, and is ready to risk his life to save Uncas. At the end of the novel, when Chingachgook laments that he is now left alone, Hawkeye pledges to stick with him in friendship.
Major Duncan Heyward: Major Duncan Heyward is the young officer who is charged with protecting Cora and Alice Munro on their trip from to Fort Edward from Fort William Henry. He is an honorable man who at first is unwilling to believe that Magua has deliberately deceived them about the path to the fort. Heyward is an able soldier, brave and resourceful, although he sometimes needs Uncas or Hawkeye to come to his rescue and save his life. He falls in love with Alice. When Alice is captured, he shows his devotion to her by disguising himself as a medicine man and rescuing her from the Hurons. Heyward gains Colonel Munro’s permission to marry Alice. They are the only characters in the novel whose story ends happily.
Magua: Magua is the Huron chief and the main enemy of Hawkeye and his party. He is fierce and cunning and is known as “Le Renard Subtil.” He is also known as a masterful, charismatic orator who can win the attention and sympathy of an audience. Magua has a complex history. He was born a Huron chief and a warrior, but when he was twenty years old he took to drink (provided by the whites) and the Hurons expelled him from their tribe. He was then adopted by the Mohawks, and became an ally of the English. But when Colonel Munro found that he had been drinking, Magua was given a public whipping. At the beginning of the novel, Magua is employed as a “runner,” responsible for guiding the party of Heyward and the two young women on a path to Fort Edward. But he leads them into a trap instead. After his treachery is exposed, he escapes, and is then involved in a deadly struggle with his enemies. In order to gain revenge on Munro for having him whipped, he kidnaps Cora and tries to make her his wife. Often Magua seems close to triumph, especially when the Delawares give him permission to depart with Cora. But Magua is finally killed by a rifle shot from Hawkeye.
The Marquis de Montcalm: The Marquis de Montcalm is the French commander who conducts the siege of Fort William Henry. He gives the English very generous terms that allow them to retain their dignity. Montcalm is a man of honor and refinement, although the author implies that he did nothing to stop the massacre that took place after the English surrender.
Colonel Munro: Colonel Munro is the commander of the English Fort William Henry, and is the father of Cora and Alice. He is devastated by the necessary surrender of the fort to the French, and deeply distressed by the capture of his daughters and the subsequent murder of Cora.
Alice Munro: Alice Munro is the younger daughter of Colonel Munro. She is fair-skinned, with golden hair and blue eyes. She is presented as being weak and emotional, although on occasions she does show some courage, as when she prefers to die rather than win her freedom by allowing Cora be taken as wife by Magua. Alice is courted by Heyward and her father gives them permission to marry.
Cora Munro: Cora Munro is the daughter of Colonel Munro, and the elder sister, by four or five years, of Alice. She is the opposite of Alice. She has dark eyes and dark hair, having been descended remotely from a black ancestor. Cora is independent and shows great courage when faced with danger, often comforting her weaker sister. When David, Heyward and her sister Alice are captured by the Hurons, Cora is the only one who has the presence of mind to remember to leave a trail. She also defies Magua and resists his demands. Cora is at the heart of the love triangle between Uncas, who loves her and whom she admires, and Magua, who wants her as his wife, but whom she despises. Cora is eventually killed by a Huron warrior.
Tamenund: Tamenund is the patriarch of the Delawares. He is extremely old, perhaps a hundred years, and is revered by all the tribe.
Uncas: Uncas, who is known to his enemies as “Le Cerf Agile” (the bounding elk), is the son of the Mohican chief Chingachgook. Uncas is young and he is blessed with beauty, strength, nobility and dignity. He says little, and is content to led his actions speak for themselves. His role early in the novel is to protect Cora and Alice on their expedition. He graciously attends to their needs, and they have confidence in him. Uncas has particular affection for Cora; he also shows great loyalty to Hawkeye. Uncas is an expert hunter and tracker, and even Hawkeye acknowledges his superior skill. He is vital in the party’s efforts to track the path taken by Magua and Cora. He is also a courageous warrior, once saving Heyward’s life in a fight with an Indian. When he is captured by the Hurons, Uncas exhibits only defiance, not fear. He is eventually honored by the Delawares as their chief, since as a Mohican he is descended from the ancestors of the Delawares. In the final battle with the Hurons he is killed by Magua.