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Sample essay topic, essay writing: James Fenimore Cooper - 1378 words
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James Fenimore Cooper was one of the pioneers in American novel writing. Cooper used the life and things he had experienced and turned them into best-selling novels that have held up throughout the years. He became famous with the publication of the wilderness adventures. Along with the success these books brought, so to came some criticism. To truly understand Coopers books you have to delve deeply into them and know from where he got the ideas for the stories.
James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15th 1789 ("James Fenimore Cooper," American Eras, n.p.). He was the eleventh child of William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper, whom he would later adopt part of his name from. His father was a land speculator, judge and Federalist politician ("James Fenimore Cooper", DISCovering Biography, n.p.). In the early years of Fenimore Cooper's life the family relocated from Burlington to the wilderness of Ostego Lake, New York. There, William Cooper built Ostego hall and developed the surrounding area as Cooperstown ("JFC", DISCovering Biography, n.p.)
In 1803 James Fenimore Cooper entered Yale at the tender age of thirteen years. However his immaturity proved to be consequential as he was expelled for blowing up a classmate's door with gunpowder ("JFC", DISCovering Biography, n.p.). After his expulsion, presumably as a consequence for his actions, Cooper joined the Navy and sailed aboard the Stirling. On the ship he was witness to many adventures such as pursuit by pirates and British impressments of U.S. sailors (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.).
In December of 1809 William Cooper died. However upon his death, he left James Cooper a large sum of money ($50,000). This money did not all go into Cooper's pocket as he had to use some of it to care for his siblings (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). In May of the next year James would request a twelve-month break from the Navy to tend to family business. In his time from the Navy, Cooper met Susan Augusta DeLancey, the daughter of a country squire.
They would marry on January 1, 1811 (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). Cooper was an avid reader in his early adulthood. After reading a few pages of Jane Austen's Precaution, he threw the book down in disgust and is claimed to have said, "I could write you a better book than that myself." Cooper's wife, Susan, challenged him to do so (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). The result was Cooper's first book, a book on manners and proper etiquette. A book of this type was very common for the time and not noteworthy aside from being the book that brought him into the literary world. Cooper's first book of import was The Spy, published in 1821.
There were quickly three editions of the book and it was adapted for the New York stage. Critics referred to Cooper as "The first who deserved the appellation of a distinguished American Novel writer (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.)." In 1822, Cooper published The Pioneers, which was the first of the Leatherstocking Tales. The book sold 3,000 copies on the day of release (for the time, a lot of copies) (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). Cooper was challenged by Sir Walter Scott to write something better than his book, The Pirate, after Cooper had criticized it. The result was his first nautical novel, The Pilot.
All of his publications led to Cooper becoming more and more of a household name (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). Coopers popularity led to his appointment in 1824 as committee member to welcome Marquis de Lafayette. In that same year he was given an honorary master of the Arts by Columbia University. Two years later, The Last of the Mohicans was published and was commended by critics (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p). This would go down in history as Coopers most famous and oft read book (JFC, DISCovering Biography, n.p.). Cooper would later travel to Europe to try to arrange for international publications of some of his novels ("James Fenimore Cooper, DISCovering Authors, n.p.).
In Europe, Cooper met with Lafayette who urged him to dispel misconceptions of Americans. The result was Notions of Americans. Back in his homeland, people criticized Cooper for intervening in French political affairs. Furthermore, Cooper's European novels were not received well. Upon his return in November of 1883 he was not nearly the hero he was when he left seven years earlier("James Fenimore Cooper, DISCovering Authors, n.p.). Cooper came to see that America had changed in his absence after he wrote two books (Homeward Bound and Home as Found) that were disliked ("James Fenimore Cooper", American Eras, n.p.). Cooper would then return to the Leatherstocking Tales which had brought him to fame with The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841) ("JFC", American Eras).
Cooper would lead an uneventful last ten years of his life before he died September 14, 1851 at his home in Cooperstown, New York ("JFC", DISCovering Authors, n.p.). Coopers series, the Leatherstocking Tales, played a major part in his growing fame. The most famous of the series was The Last of the Mohicans. This book is set in the summer of 1757 during the French and Indian War in the New York wilderness (where Cooper grew up) (James Fenimore Cooper, Novels for Students, 133). The characters of The Last of the Mohicans can be divided into Indians and Non-Indians. Magua is the antagonist.
He was once the chief of his tribe but was driven from it due to his drinking habits. Chingachgook is a wise old Indian and is one of the last two Mohicans, the other being his son, Uncas. Uncas is one of the heroes of the book and is fairly young and able-bodied (JFC, Novels for Students, 135). Hawkeye is the protagonist of the story. He is not an Indian in genetics but understands them and is essentially Indian in character. Alice and Cora Munro are the eventually kidnapped daughters of a colonel in the British military.
Cora has some level of ethnic background. Major Heyward is a brave man under the command of Colonel Munro who accompanies the girls when they venture into the wilderness. He is out of his element as he is not a woodsman. Gamut is trying to spread religion to the frontier and is further out of place than Heyward (JFC, Novels for Students, 136). The action of the story starts with Magua leading the Munro daughters along with Major Heyward through a shortcut to visit Colonel Munro at Fort William Henry.
The group encounters Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook. The three newcomers reveal to the travelers that Magua is leading them into an attack (JFC, Novels for Students, 134). Magua flees into the woods. The new group of Alice, Cora, Major Heyward, Gamut, Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook find safety in a cave. The next morning the Hurons, who are allies of Magua, attack the travelers.
Alice, Cora, Heyward and Gamut are caught as the others escape. Next, Magua reveals his motive for kidnapping the girls. In the past Colonel Munro had humiliated him by publicizing Magua's drinking habits. Magua offers the girls a deal; if Cora marries him, Alice may leave unharmed (JFC, Novels for Students, 134). As he proposes marriage to the unwilling Cora, Hawkeye and the Mohicans save the day, rescue the travelers and kill every Huron except for Magua who escapes.
The group finally makes their way to Fort William Henry and Colonel Munro (Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, a.p.). At Fort William Henry the French and Indians attack retreating British soldiers and massacre them. Among the Indians is Magua who again escapes with Cora, Alice and Gamut (JFC, Novels for Students, 134). Major Heyward, Hawkeye, Colonel Munro and the Mohicans all find Maguas trail and pursue him. Alice is rescued from a Huron camp while Gamut is set free.
However, Magua still holds Cora captive even after a confrontation with the travelers (Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, a.p.). A battle starts between Magua and Hurons with the travelers. Cora is killed by a Huron, Uncas then tries to kill that Huron but is then killed by Magua. Magua is left hanging from a cliff in the climactic moment of the story when Hawkeye shoots him and he plummets to his death (Cooper, The Last of ...
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