More on Magua

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Posted by Victoria on August 08, 1998 at 08:13:38:

Some see Magua not as the main antagonist, but as just another player in a series of tragic events- seeking revenge for the death of his children and the loss of his wife to another man. They feel he has been wrongfully characterized as the bad guy. Is this changing the story that is already written, or just looking at something in a different way?"

: >I am not anti-Magua (ask Victoria!). Whether or not we like his character (or the actor who is portraying him), he IS the antagonist. That's his role. Understanding why he is as he is doesn't alter his purpose in the story, nor does it relieve him of his "bad guy" status. He has been characterized as the bad guy by Cooper who created him, and then again by Mann who scripted him. The degree of empathy or pity we feel for him is a reflection of ourselves, not of Magua. If you say you understand him and even root for him then that is looking at something in your own way. But if you say he is wrongfully characterized as the bad guy, then I think you are changing his character and role.

I read the book a REALLY long time ago, and then watched the movie, followed by enough historical material to fill in the gaps. I feel capable of deconstructing both to decide for myself where Magua was coming from. Was he fighting for justice? Was he fighting for truth and a way of life? In my mind it means that he may have been the antagonist, but in essence he was not a "Bad Guy." Two hundred and forty years after the actual events, and some hundred and sixty years after the book was written, I think we can see that there are extenuating circumstances for his actions. Cooper from where and when he wrote could (would) not have constructed Magua's character another way. Could Magua have been persuaded to ransom Alice? We will never know because Uncas precipitated all three deaths. But I can say that Magua had justifiable reasons for what he did at the time he was supposed to have done them. He was, I believe, a heroic figure, if not an actual hero.

Ever able and willing to argue the other side,

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