[‘To be angry is to be wrong.’ Surely the intention of Hugh Kingsmill’s precept (to which this webpage is linked) is that it is wrong to carry a settled anger through life, whether it be specific or generalized, and not that there are no occasions where anger is justified. Set during the Seven Years War, the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans provides a dramatic instance of what most people would probably consider legitimate anger. Cora Munro has been seriously smitten by Hawkeye (aka Nathaniel), a devilishly handsome and accomplished woodsman who, though white, was orphaned as a child and raised in a Mohican family. He also happens to have saved her and her companions after they are ambushed by a Huron war party. The small band of survivors, braving danger and hardship, eventually reach the relative security of Fort William Henry, under siege by the French. (Click HERE for more background.) The British commander of the fort, Edmund Munro, is Cora’s father, and Duncan Heyward, who wants to marry her, is one of his officers. Duncan, too, owes his life to Hawkeye and his Mohican companions, but he senses which way the wind is blowing.
When Hawkeye, against Colonel Munro’s orders, helps some of the colonial militia to leave the fort in order to defend their families, Munro, with Duncan’s support, decides that it is his duty to hang the man his daughter loves for opposing British interests. Cora’s love of Hawkeye combined with her sense of justice—Duncan lied to Munro about a massacre of settlers by French Indian allies, which, by previous agreement, gave the colonials the right to abandon the doomed fort—moves her to a splendid outburst of controlled and articulate anger. Duncan’s anger is also intense, but you can see his self-righteousness waver when he accuses her of being infatuated with the condemned man. His unjust accusation—unjust because it is irrelevant—inspires her contempt and an assessment of his character that is devastating in its brevity and precision. The three minute episode (59 minutes into the film and shown in the clip below) is a good illustration of how intense emotions, when they are justified, often make people eloquent and quick-witted.]
Cora Munro’s anger
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