Essay - Environmental History in 'The Trouble with Wilderness,' William Cronon Illustrates...

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Environmental History

In "The Trouble with Wilderness," William Cronon illustrates the cultural biases inherent in the very term "wilderness" and shows how those biases may be at ***** heart of the modern environmental movement. "***** time has come to rethink wilderness," Cronon suggests (p. 379). Before the Industrial Revolution, the ***** wilderness referred to a barren wastel*****, a *****lace that was "deserted, savage, desolate," (p. 380). The ***** evoked terror, not joy. By the end of the 19th century, due to shifts in cultural ideology as well as to the effects of industrialism, the American concept of wilderness changed dramatically. The ***** began to represent ***** opposite of barren wasteland and became a sublime, sacred center. Early environmentalists like John Muir in fact did did refer ***** wilderness areas in spiritual terms. Speaking out against the destruction ***** ***** Hetch *****y Valley in Yosemite National Park, Muir claimed ***** the dam-builders were "temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism," (p. 358). Muir described Hetch Hetchy as "precious and sublime" and like o*****r environmentalists of his time, used Biblical imagery to supp*****t his views. ***** also s*****s how the use ***** Biblical imagery proves how deeply ingrained ***** concept of ***** has become in the American psyche. The Bible presents two dualistically opposed views of wilderness: the Eden ***** the proverbial garden and the dangerous wastel***** of the desert. It is prec*****ely t***** dualis*****ic worldview that is at the root of ***** conflicts *****in the environmental *****.

Wilderness was, according to Cronon, a product of ***** converging eighteenth and nineteenth century movements: Romantic*****m ***** the Frontier/Wild West/Manifest Destiny spirit. "The two converged to remake wilderness in their own image," according to Cronon, "freighting it with moral values and cultural symbols," (382). For example romanticism saw nature as sublime, as spiritually infused and permeated ***** divine energy. Wide open spaces away from city life ***** like churches and temples; in fact, for many they were more sacred than any church or temple. For John Muir, who screamed against the destruction ***** Hetch *****y Valley, that part of Yosemite ***** "precious and sublime," and "the sublime rocks of its walls seem ***** glow with life," (356). To destroy Hetch Hetchy and turn it into a dam w***** akin to destroying a *****. Muir's environmentalism solidly reflects the spirit of Romantisicm at ***** heart of the early American environmentalist movement.

Part of ***** reason ***** the Romantic vision of nature was the increased dicho*****my between urban ***** natural *****, between cities and forests. As *****ism created bigger cities with fewer trees, people longed for an "older, simpler, truer world," (Cronon 384). Alic Hamilton s*****s ***** dark side of industrialism through her account of working with men afflicted with what she calls "industrial diseases" at Hull House (402). Industrial diseases were those that resulted directly from unclean, polluted factory environments. However, Hamilton also shows how "industrial diseases" ***** psychological and social as well as physical. The pull toward profit *****ced men to work long hours away from


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