James Fenimore Cooper and the genteel hero of romance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Thomas S. Gladsky (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Donald Darnell

Abstract: In virtually every one of his many novels, James Fenimore Cooper used one of literature's most familiar figures--the genteel hero, whose characterization and function had become literary cliches even by Cooper's time. Over the course of the novels, however, the genteel hero became Cooper's most important character in both a technical and a thematic sense. Although his characterization and function owe much to literary history, the genteel hero, overlooked and maligned by Cooper scholars, is a developing character whose evolution in the novels is an indicator of Cooper's artistic and philosophical development. Structuring his plots around the movements and problems of his social beau ideal, Cooper gradually converted this minor character into the primary protagonist and narrator of his novels. From a passive, two dimensional, aristocrat, moreover, the genteel hero develops into a realistic, introspective democratic, American gentleman whose many roles attest to his significance and to Cooper's artistry.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1975
Cooper, James Fenimore, $d 1789-1851 $x Characters
Cooper, James Fenimore, $d 1789-1851 $x Criticism and interpretation
Heroes in literature

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