The Nineteenth Century, By John Augustus Stone And The Last Of The Wampanoags

The Nineteenth Century, By John Augustus Stone And The Last Of The Wampanoags

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The nineteenth-century, a period of expansion in the eyes of the Americans; fostered an increase in preexisting feelings of superiority over the indigenous peoples of America. They were referred to as “Indians” or “savages.” The Euro-American belief of distinction between the “civilized” and “savages” were accentuated in the universal law of progress, and law of vices and virtues, leading to the emergence of the famed myth, the “vanishing” Indian, which enforced the Euro-American notion of the Native American population dwindling into nothingness (Ferdinando). The eighteen-hundreds marked the rise in naturalistic literature integrating the myth of the vanishing Indian into popular culture.
Playwrights with their increased popularity in the nineteenth-century incorporated these elements of white ideology into their plays, as seen in Metamora; or The Last of the Wampanoags; a play written by John Augustus Stone in 1828, and first performed in 1829 at the Park Theater in New York City (Jones 13). Metamora clearly establishes the stereotype of American Indians being savages and the Euro-Americans being civilized, and stresses the notion that Native Americans would eventually vanish with the approaching of Euro-American civilization.
Hence, the speech patterns of Metamora, the Native American protagonist, gives the impression of hostility and denseness, typecasting Native Americans as savages, as can be seen in various excerpts of the play. For instance, “Liar and coward! Let him preserve thee now!” (Stone 13) Metamora’s comment in terms of the context is ruthless. Kaweshine, the Indian prophet, speaks of the imminent future, begging Metamora to make amends with the Europeans to avoid the Wampanoag’s demise. Metamora, unwilling to co...


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...des largely due to Edwin Forrest’s prestigious and vigorous acting style; acclaimed critics compared him to that of a vast animal (Ferdinando). In modern day, Metamora is recognized for its distinctions between the Indians and Euro-Americans in terms of savagery and civilization, as well as for integrating the myth of the vanishing Indian. Obvious distinctions can be drawn from the speech patterns between that of Metamora and his European allies displaying savagery and civilization; Metamora’s dialogue is that of an ill-mannered fool, while Oceana’s and Walter’s were that of proper, well versed individuals. The myth of the vanishing Indian is undoubtedly portrayed as Metamora dies and remarks on how the last of the Wampanoag’s curses them, enforcing the white ideal. The play of Metamora was a model representation of the white ideology held in the nineteenth-century.

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