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Magua is initially seen as the Indian runner who is sent by Munro to Webb to ask for help. He has a "sullen fierceness" and a sly, wary, and disdainful look. When Duncan and Munro's daughters leave the fort, he acts as their guide. However, he deceives them and leads them into a trap, which is foiled by Hawkeye and the Mohicans.
He is an opportunist, who changes tribes and parties according to his whims and to suit his own purposes. He was exiled from his people, the Hurons, for his drunken, wild behavior. He joined the English, but was whipped by Munro for drunkenness one day. Later he joined the Mohawk, but according to Hawkeye, he would always be a "thieving Mingo." He has now rejoined the Hurons for the sole purpose of taking his revenge against Munro. He has also very shrewdly become an ally of the French and Montcalm.
Magua is a skilled orator who manages to rouse the passions of his men. When the chief of the Delawares remains cool and slightly cold, he offers him baubles to appease him and the other Delawares. When the Hurons hold a council over how to respond to the escape of Hawkeye, it is Magua's plan that prevails.
He has no scruples about killing women and children. Though Montcalm informs him that the English and the French have called a truce, he refuses to accept it. Instead he, along with his pack, attacks and marauds the English women and children in the most brutal manner. He does not spare anybody but the girls Cora and Alice, as he has other plans for them.
Though he wants revenge on Munro by marrying Cora, he does not harm the girls in any other way. In the course of his actions he even seems to develop some kind of bond with Cora, as he is unable to kill her in the end. However, Magua has no such qualms about killing Uncas. Hawkeye finally kills him in the end.
He is a young officer who is escorting the daughters of Munro to Fort William Henry. He is very young, so can be forgiven for getting hoodwinked by the Indian runner. He is initially suspicious of Hawkeye but soon begins to rely on him when he realizes that he is entirely dependable. Although not as practiced in woodcraft and survival as Hawkeye and the Mohicans, he learns from his experiences and gains in skill and dexterity as the novel progresses.
Duncan is highly chivalrous, ready to lay down his life for the women he has been assigned to protect. More than once he risks great odds to save Alice or Cora or both. A true gentleman, he is in love with Alice but does not express his feelings until he gets permission from her father, Commander Munro. Even though he and Alice are stranded together for such a long time, he never takes advantage of their proximity to act in ill-fashion.
As a soldier and a warrior, his courage and vigor outshine any demerits of youth and skill. He tries to protect Hawkeye by claiming that he is the legendary Indian enemy, La Longue Carbine. When Cora urges them to leave when the gunpowder runs out, he does not and stays back with the women. It is true that he is governed by his emotions and is sometimes impractical, but his actions show his immense courage.
His relationship with Hawkeye and Chingachgook is one of awe and respect. He acknowledges their experience and knowledge of the area. He proves his friendship and debt to Uncas by rescuing him.