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.
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’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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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 is the patriarch of the Delawares. He is extremely
old, perhaps a hundred years, and is revered by all the tribe.
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.