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Thread: Please edit my disorganized essay!

  1. #1

    Post Please edit my disorganized essay!

    The following essay prompt is: "Discuss the characterization of women in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. You may want to compare and contrast how women are treated in the novel with how they are treated in contemporary society."

    Thanks for reading!


    Women’s rights have undergone a slow, but dramatic, changes over time. Women’s roles within the family unit, during battle, and basic freedoms have evolved and become subject to personal choices. In The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper presents the reader with two very different women. Meek, younger sister Alice does not emulate mixed-race Cora’s brave, selfless nature throughout their adventure. Compared to the modern US society, Cora and Alice Munro represent variables and differences amongst women. Although difficult to compare such different women during the French and Indian War to “today’s modern woman,” a breakdown of behaviors and qualities could better explain.

    To begin, it is important to note the vast differences between the sisters themselves. Both represent the different types of women that can be seen today and have been present over the course of time. Cora is to Alice as a mother is to her daughter. Where Cora’s actions bring about feelings of admiration in the reader, Alice’s behavior brings about feelings of sympathy. In LOTM, Cora exhibits a protective nature towards her younger sister. Alice, on the other hand, is more light-hearted and much weaker, easily being drawn to tears and fainting during difficult times. Cora represents reason and strength, qualities that become clear through the acts of her mothering, selfless nature. For example, Cora hides Alice’s face in her bosom through battles focusing on her sister’s safety. Alice needs to be cared for and saved during hard times, much like a damsel in distress would be saved from harm while Cora is willing to stand up next to Hawkeye and fight, a quality far from Alice’s personality. Of the two, Cora represents the strong, independent type of woman we see in this modern era.

    Women’s contributions to warfare and battles have also changed over time. In the mid-18th century, women’s roles in the military during battle were basically nonexistent. Currently in the US, women are enlisted in the military, ranging from soldiers to highly respected rankings and positions (Norris). Even though this trend began due to a lack of male volunteers, women stepped up and assumed responsibility for the safety of their country. During the French and Indian War, this idea would have been unacceptable. However, this is not to say that women were not involved. Charlotte Browne, for example, was arguably the most respected woman in the Army during the French and Indian War, serving as the head nurse who “supervised other nurses, laundresses, and cooks” (Toth). The Native Americans, on the other hand, had both male and female leaders. “Queen” Aliquippa, along with other Native American leaders, came to rule with great authority not through inheritance, but through wisdom and leadership skills (Toth). During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale transformed nursing into a respectable profession. Like the Munro sisters, Nightingale was not allowed engage in battle, but she still managed to set new standards for sanitation in hospitals and her revolutionary ideas saved the male soldiers who were allowed to fight. Today, American women today make up 14% of all branches of the U.S. military (Norris). Even with Army policies against women serving on the front lines, women with infant children can be found defending the U.S. next to men. Cooper actually sets men and women apart by the mere presence of weapons, a blatantly phallic symbol of power. After proving to be brave and have the heart of a warrior, Cora was given a respectable burial after her heroic and brave efforts throughout the entire journey. Essentially, that is what every warrior seeks: respect.

    The freedoms women lacked during the French and Indian War should be apparent to the modern, American woman. Interestingly enough, Cooper chooses to have two women being held captive instead of one or more Native Americans. By doing so, the author establishes the women as helpless in need of rescuing. In addition, Cora and Alice were required to be escorted by males both in their “free” lives and even while held captive. On their trip to Fort William Henry, Major Duncan Heyward, a music teacher named David Gamut, and a Huron named Magua, accompanied the Munro girls. Even mal-intentioned Magua, who proved to be a traitor by leading the group into an ambush, was qualified to guide them due to the fact that he was a male. Eventually, we see that Magua was seeking revenge on the girls’ father, Colonel Munro, for publically humiliating him as a form of punishment. Capturing or harming women and children during battles is a war strategy that has been used against men during raids for centuries. This tactic was used to establish power and control, but was also considered a “low blow” since one would be attacking “helpless individuals” such as women and children. Even the Romans took note of this during the Roman Empire, prohibiting marriage as a means to assure limited emotional attachments and, therefore, better soldiers (Garnsey 45). Essentially, families and love, women in this case, were seen as distracting and detrimental to a male soldier or warrior’s performance during battle.

    It would be negligent to deny that the social constructs also affected men during the time of the French and Indian War. Men had to defend not only their own honor, but also the honor of their families. We can assume that a woman would have been ridiculed for participation in battle in the 1800s while men would have experienced something similar, if not worse, had they decided to become homemakers instead of warriors. Both genders were held to strict standards and expectations, still a prevalent battle. Although there are apparent differences between the treatment of women during the French and Indian War and today, modern women are still trying to establish themselves as strong and independent regardless of whether they choose to go off to battle or become homemakers.




    Feel absolutely free to edit and criticize. I am struggling with the organization of my writing and the language I use, so don't feel bad about letting me know what needs to change! Please tell me things to cut, add, and areas that are in dire need of improvement!

    Thanks a bunch!
    Last edited by ireadtogetaway; 02-10-2010 at 09:22 PM.

  2. #2
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    The following essay prompt is: "Discuss the characterization of women in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. You may want to compare and contrast how women are treated in the novel with how they are treated in contemporary society."

    Paragraph 1:
    Sentence 1: A general introduction of the topic:
    The treatment of contemporary women is compared to the specific experiences of the female characters in "The Last of the Mohicans", written by James Fenimore Cooper.
    Sentence 2: Thesis:
    The view of women in modern society has developed, which is differentiated by experience 1, experience 2, experience 3 in the novel.
    Sentence 3: I forget but I know there is one more sentence such as:
    The more comparisons that are made with serious fiction serves our ethical responsibility to be able to answer evasive questions.

    Paragraph 2: Defend argument 1.
    Paragraph 3: Defend argument 2.
    Paragraph 4: Defend argument 3.
    Paragraph 5: conclusion: Summary

  3. #3
    thank you so much for the organizational help! it really helped the focus of my essay.
    Last edited by ireadtogetaway; 03-26-2010 at 04:05 AM.

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