The Last of the Mohicans

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The novel’s antagonist, and a high-ranking Huron warrior (itself a subset of the Mingo, or Iroquois, tribes), Magua wishes to defeat the English and Mohican / Delaware forces, and also to take Cora, Munro’s dark-haired older daughter, back with him to his “wigwam,” as his wife. Magua is portrayed as caring more about amassing power and gaining influence than about honor, as he has a history of switching alliances in whatever way is most beneficial to him, which fits with his nickname Le Renard Subtil ("The Wily Fox"). He also has a long memory for any slight he has received, and is focused on Cora to redress wrongs he feels he has been dealt by Colonel Munro. After numerous attempts to kidnap Cora, Magua is eventually killed by Hawkeye, but not before Cora is killed by another Huron, and Magua kills Uncas.

Magua Quotes in The Last of the Mohicans

The The Last of the Mohicans quotes below are all either spoken by Magua or refer to Magua. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
“Savagery,” Civilization, and the Frontier Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bantam Classics edition of The Last of the Mohicans published in 1982.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Should we distrust the man because his manners are not our manners, and that his skin is dark?

Related Characters: Cora Munro (speaker), Magua
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Cora asks her family whether they distrust Magua simply because he's a Native American - a representative of a community that the white colonial settlers, as a rule, tend not to understand. As it turns out, later in the text, the other members of the Munro family have good reason to distrust Magua - as he will turn treacherous and take the side of the French. But this cannot be known early in the novel, and Cora wonders, genuinely, why her family necessarily attributes bad qualities to a Native American guide.

The political and social lessons of The Last of the Mohicans are complex - rather progressive for their time, but, viewed in a contemporary light, still somewhat shocking in their insistence on essential differences between Native American and "European" ways of life. Part of the novel's purpose, as Cooper understood it, was to describe the political and social interactions of colonial America in their fullness, without ascribing absolute good or bad to one side or another. This, despite the fact that Cooper does tend to favor the "Royal American," or English colonial, side. 

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Chapter 4 Quotes

A Huron! They are a thievish race, nor do I care by whom they are adopted; you can never make anything of them but skulks and vagabonds.

Related Characters: Hawkeye (speaker), Magua
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

In direct contrast to the quotation above, Hawkeye does not universally approve of Native American behavior, nor does he believe that all native tribes are equally trustworthy or loyal to their friends. Indeed, Hawkeye argues that the Huron are more than willing to break covenants, to do whatever it is that might advance their own interests, even if at the expense of those around them whom they used to call friends. Hawkeye is characteristically final on this point - he does not leave room for any subtlety. If Magua is indeed a Huron, then it is no surprise, for Hawkeye, that Magua has turned traitor and left the group he was supposed to guide through the woods. This, for Hawkeye, is exactly what a Huron in Magua's position would do.

Hawkeye's beliefs, then, are a subset of a recurring theme in the novel - the judgment of a single person by the perceived actions or attitudes of a group to which that person belongs. (Essentially, a textbook edition of racial stereotyping.)

Chapter 10 Quotes

Yes, the pale-faces are prattling women! They have two words for each thing, while a redskin will make the sound of his voice speak for him.

Related Characters: Magua (speaker), Duncan Heyward
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

Magua believes, just as heartily as some of the European characters believe, that there are essential differences between Native Americans and Europeans. One of those differences, for Magua, has to do with patterns of speech. Europeans, he charges, use a lot of words to say very little - they use language not to tell the truth but to speak around it, to obfuscate it - in a word, to lie. By contrast, the Native Americans believe that a voice ought to be used when someone has something true, and direct, to say. Magua does not believe in the use of language for deception.

But, of course, both Heyward and Magua practice deception throughout the novel, and so Magua's distinction is a theoretical rather than an actual one. Heyward attempts to use his cunning to build up Magua's vanity and therefore save his friends, and Magua, at the beginning of the novel, pretended to be a scout favorable to Heyward and company before abandoning them. 

Chapter 11 Quotes

And am I answerable that thoughtless and unprincipled men exist, whose shades of countenance may resemble mine?

Related Characters: Cora Munro (speaker), Magua
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point in the novel, Magua is trying to make the case that Cora ought to live with him as his wife. In doing this, he in part degrades the honor and valor of the European men among whom Cora has lived. Cora assertively tells Magua, in this quotation, that of course there are bad European men, as there are bad people in all communities in the world - she therefore echoes the sentiments she shares earlier in the text, in which she critiques those who (rightly, it turns out) would not trust Magua. But the fact that Magua is a deceptive person and of Iroquois heritage is a coincidence, and Cora wishes to show that bad people, and good people, exist in all communities on the face of the earth, and have since time immemorial. What is more important, for Cora, is the courage one demonstrates in thinking for himself or herself - and not the affiliation that person proclaims, as a source of "honor." 

Chapter 29 Quotes

If the Great Spirit gave different tongues to his red children, it was that all animals might understand them. Some He placed among the snows, with their cousin the bear. Some he placed near the setting sun, on the road to the happy hunting-grounds. Some on the lands around the great fresh waters; but to his greatest, and most beloved, he gave the sands of the salt lake.

Related Characters: Magua (speaker)
Page Number: 350
Explanation and Analysis:

Magua gives a short sermon on the nature of native tribes, and the manner by which they came to be the way they are. Cooper demonstrates that Magua is very knowledgeable in the ways of his own culture, and in the history that culture has established for itself - in the art of telling one's own story, and the story of one's people.

Cooper, importantly, does not necessarily intrude on the narrative here, to argue that Magua's story of the history of his tribe is incorrect. Cooper refrains from implying that the European methods of history, or warfare, or city-building are naturally superior to the native methods. He also does not argue that native methods themselves were closer to nature, or more originally wonderful. Cooper instead manages (usually) to show what is good and ill about both native and European societies - and to show how these societies interacted when they met in the forests of upstate New York. 

Chapter 32 Quotes

The pale-faces are dogs! The Delawares women! Magua leaves them on the rocks, for the crows!

Related Characters: Magua (speaker)
Page Number: 393
Explanation and Analysis:

Even as Magua begins to realize that he is doomed, that he will not be able to survive the final battle, he nevertheless refuses to back down, or to state that in fact he has a new-found respect for his adversaries. Instead, he states that Europeans cannot be trusted, that the Delawares are cowardly in battle (as implied by the insult "women"), and that he will not even allow their wounded bodies proper treatment or burial. This bitterness Magua takes to the very end - he will not allow for any compromise between his own tribe and his enemies.

Magua, then, is one example of the nature of enmity in the novel - but he is not the only example. Although Heyward and Hawkeye, each in his own way, are committed to defending themselves and their friends, they do not believe that their enemies are absolutely evil - nor do they think it is their only job on earth to defeat them. In his hatred of his enemies, Magua is in a realm unto himself - his hatred knows no bounds, and it is this hatred that drives him into the final battle and, eventually, kills him. 

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Magua Character Timeline in The Last of the Mohicans

The timeline below shows where the character Magua appears in The Last of the Mohicans. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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Alice, the fair-haired of the two young women, asks Heyward whether the runner up ahead is not a “specter” of the forest, and if he is a loyal... (full context)
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Cora, her dark-haired sister, asks Alice whether she mistrusts the runner simply because his “skin is dark.” Alice also wonders why they are not traveling with... (full context)
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...sing at some point in the future. The group, now four on horseback plus the runner, continue heading along the path to Fort William Henry. (full context)
Chapter 4
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...Hawkeye, and says that his party has become lost in the woods—that their guide, the runner, has lost his way. Hawkeye wonders how this is possible, and Heyward explains that the... (full context)
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Hawkeye asks to see the runner, who is standing back behind the psalmodist (named David) and Alice and Cora; Hawkeye, after... (full context)
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Hawkeye tells Heyward to busy the runner, whose name is Magua, or Le Renard Subtil, in conversation, so that he (Hawkeye), Chingachgook,... (full context)
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Heyward, however, asks Magua whether that is a wise move—leaving the party—since Magua has been promised a reward by... (full context)
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Magua then approaches Heyward, who has dismounted from his horse, showing Heyward that the corn in... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye attempt to track Magua for a moment, but then return to Heyward, who has been frozen in his spot,... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...tells Cora, Alice, and David that they are saved—they have escaped detection. Just then, however, Magua sees the cavern and, poking his head into it, past the blanket blocking its entrance,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...Alice and Cora and David, but instead roam through the caverns in search of Hawkeye. Magua tells Heyward that the Mingos desire to find Hawkeye above all else; Magua also complains... (full context)
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Magua asks Heyward where Hawkeye went, and Heyward replies that Hawkeye and the two Mohicans floated... (full context)
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En route, Heyward attempts to play on Magua’s vanity by congratulating him for his cunning displayed over the previous day. Heyward implies that,... (full context)
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The party switches from canoe onto horseback, with Magua and the other warriors leading the prisoners through the forest. Cora remembers Hawkeye’s injunction to... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...top of the clearing, some of the Hurons sit and eat, and Heyward goes to Magua, telling him that perhaps they ought to hurry on to Fort William Henry, if Magua... (full context)
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Magua begins telling Cora the story of his own life: his fellow Hurons were given “fire... (full context)
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But Magua continues, saying that he wishes to take Cora for his wife, since his previous wife... (full context)
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Magua turns to the warriors and begins a rousing speech, extolling the warriors’ power, the strength... (full context)
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Magua curses Cora again, saying she believes she is too good for the “wigwam of Le... (full context)
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Magua, angered by Cora’s final refusal, throws his tomahawk at the band, nearly slicing Alice—the tomahawk... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...Hawkeye, and the Mohicans beat and stab beat back and kill the Hurons. Chingachgook and Magua begin to wrestle, as Magua is the only Mingo left, but after Chingachgook appears to... (full context)
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...Hudson to see if they could track the Hurons, and after hearing their cries (during Magua’s rousing speech to the warriors), Hawkeye and the Mohicans believed the group to be close... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...French have finally subdued the English and overpowered their fort. On his walk, Montcalm encounters Magua, who has also walked in the night from his own encampment—that of the Hurons—toward the... (full context)
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Magua pulls out his rifle and takes aim at a form he sees on the ramparts... (full context)
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At this, the Huron war cry is raised—directed by Magua, who has also emerged from the woods—and Hurons begin massacring the English families as they... (full context)
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But Magua hears David’s hymns, too, and comes running over to Alice and Cora. Magua repeats his... (full context)
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Magua leads his horse back up to the top of the mountain, south of Lake George,... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye also find signs of David’s and Magua’s footprints and clothing near Cora’s torn shawl, causing them to conclude that Magua has taken... (full context)
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But Hawkeye says that Alice is perhaps in the company of Cora, Magua, and David, and Hawkeye and the Mohicans vow to search through the wilderness for them.... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...and on the means by which the band can find Alice and Cora and defeat Magua. Heyward is entranced by the music of the Delaware language and by the civility with... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...the lake, and get out at a different location, preparing once again to search for Magua, Cora, and Alice in the woods, and hoping any following Hurons will be tricked by... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...not very well known even by natives. Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye hunt for traces of Magua and the two young women, but finding very little, they begin to despair that perhaps... (full context)
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...they continue on this almost imperceptible trail, which begins to show signs of the horses Magua is using, Uncas stops by a creek and finds the faintest imprint of a moccasin,... (full context)
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Suddenly, Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye realize that David, perhaps, became tired in his walking—Magua’s and the two young women’s footprint are now visible, too, and it appears that Magua’s... (full context)
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...greets David heartily, preparing to learn news of what has become of the rest of Magua’s group. (full context)
Chapter 22
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...their current location, and David briefly tells of their journey, and the fact that, although Magua kept them as hostages, he did not harm them. He instead made them walk long... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Before Heyward can depart, Magua enters the lodge, having been away conveying Cora to the other, related tribe nearby. The... (full context)
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After the old man leaves, Magua turns and recognizes Uncas in the lodge—although he does not recognize Heyward, whose medicine-man clothes... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Just as Heyward is telling Alice that he loves her and wishes to marry her, Magua enters the cave partition, and smiles: he now has both Alice and Heyward trapped. But... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...and Uncas—and the conjuror begins telling of Hawkeye’s trickery in helping to rescue Alice, when Magua emerges from the caverns, having broken his bonds, and seething with rage. (full context)
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The Hurons are shocked to find that Magua, so great a warrior, has been trapped and duped by Heyward, Uncas, and Hawkeye. Magua,... (full context)
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...long speech, complete with exhortations to the gods and to the strength of his people, Magua convinces the Hurons to follow his plan. He passes the night in his hut, and... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Magua, having reached the nearby Delaware village, leaves his fellow warriors in the outlying forests, and... (full context)
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Magua begins by asking the Delaware warriors how the prisoner Cora is faring. The Delawares say... (full context)
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Magua then brings his Huron warriors into the village, where they assemble in a circle and... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...realize that Hawkeye is La Longue Carabine, and, this having been determined, the Delawares ask Magua to speak to the assembled crowd. Magua, with his skills at public speaking, gives a... (full context)
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Tamenund, accepting the compliments Magua has bestowed upon the Delaware people, states succinctly that Magua may take the prisoners from... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...friend, Uncas tells Tamenund and the other Delawares to accept Hawkeye as their ally, too. Magua and the members of the band then turn to Tamenund for his judgment: Tamenund says... (full context)
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...would not have accepted Hawkeye’s generosity anyway, that it is her lot to go with Magua. Cora then tells Heyward to take care of Alice, and follows behind Magua out of... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Once Magua disappears into the woods with Cora, and the sun has passed several hours on its... (full context)
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...location of the Hurons, and David says that they are nearby in the woods, that Magua has taken Cora back into the Huron village and placed her in the cavern formerly... (full context)
Chapter 32
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The Delawares push farther into the Huron village, and encounter Magua, who does his best to defend the Huron encampment, although the Delawares, having now overpowered... (full context)
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...that two Huron warriors are in fact carrying Cora up the rocky hill, and that Magua is with them, directing the warriors toward “his wigwam” out in the wilderness. On the... (full context)
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...this Huron from Cora, and, with his back exposed, and weaponless, Uncas is stabbed by Magua multiple times, and killed. Heyward and Hawkeye then pursue Magua, who jumps from ledge to... (full context)