Re: More on Magua

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Posted by Elaine on August 08, 1998 at 10:12:14:

In Reply to: More on Magua posted by Victoria on August 08, 1998 at 08:13:38:

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,
: Victoria

Dear DA Victoria,

Always a pleasure to converse with the Devil's Advocate!
We will agree on Magua's designation as the antagonist, right? Was he justified in his actions?
Perhaps on a personal level, he was. Rightly or wrongly, he held the Grey Hair responsible for his losses and vowed to avenge those losses. This, I understand and empathize with. Fighting for truth and a way of life? No, I think not. Had Magua been operating for the common good of the Huron, then that would be true. But his motive was never beyond a personal nature. He took pay from both the English and the French, not to further the cause of Huronia freedom, but to further his aim to have his revenge. Had he killed Munro and saw that his debt was satisfied, we could see this as justice. But to continue his "blood lust", and require also the deaths of the Munro daughters, who had no culpability in his own wrongs, was not justice but pure vengeance. His actions endangered his own people so he was not acting for anyone's benefit but his own. This makes him the bad guy.

You are right that we can never know for sure if he could have been persuaded to ransom "that girl" (I can't say her name! I promised never to speak it!), but we can reasonably conclude that he would not. Based on Magua's own declarations and his burning hatred of all things Munro, there is no way I can ever see him ransoming "that girl." It wouldn't be consistent of his character to do so. He wanted her death. Period. Money he could have had by other means, that wasn't his motive. Revenge. Death. The end of the Munro seed. That's what Magua wanted.

Heroic figure ... again, his determination and willingness to make daring, bold moves can loosely classify him as a hero, but ...
to whom? Not to the Hurons. Not to the plot. No one was better served by his actions. A hero perhaps to himself and the memory of his family?

Ever pleased and willing to hear your arguments,

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