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

Wilderness was, according to *****, a product of two converging eighteenth ***** nineteenth century *****s: Romantic*****m and the Frontier/Wild West/Manifest Destiny spirit. "The two converged to remake wilderness in their own image," according ***** Cronon, "freighting it with moral values and cultural symbols," (382). For example romanticism saw nature as sublime, as *****ually 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 ***** Muir, who screamed against the destruction of Hetch *****y *****, that part of Yosemite ***** "precious ***** sublime," and "the ***** rocks of its walls seem to glow with life," (356). To destroy Hetch *****y and turn it into a dam was akin to destroying a *****. Muir's environment*****lism solidly reflects ***** spir***** of Romantisicm at the heart ***** the early American environmentalist movement.

Part of ***** reason ***** the Romantic vision ***** nature ***** the increased dicho*****my between urban ***** natural life, 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 the 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 "***** diseases" ***** psychological and social as well as physical. The pull toward profit forced men to work long hours away from

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