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 the modern environmental movement. "The time has come to rethink wilderness," Cronon suggests (p. 379). Before the Industrial Revolution, the term wilderness referred to a barren wasteland, a *****lace that was "deserted, savage, desolate," (p. 380). The wilderness evoked terror, not joy. By ***** end of the 19th century, due to shifts in ***** ideology as well ***** to the effects ***** industrialism, the American concept of wilderness changed dramatically. The wilderness began to represent ***** opposite of ***** wasteland and became a sublime, sacred center. Early environmentalists like John Muir in fact did did refer to ***** areas ***** spiritual terms. Speaking out against the destruction of 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 "precious and sublime" ***** like other ***** of his *****, used Biblical imagery to support his views. Cronon also shows how the use of Biblical imagery proves how deeply ingrained ***** concept ***** wilderness h***** be***** in the American psyche. The Bible presents two dualistically opposed views of wilderness: the Eden ***** the proverbial garden and the dangerous ***** of the desert. It is prec*****ely t***** dualistic worldview that is at the root of the conflicts *****in the environmental *****.

Wilderness was, according ***** *****, a product of ***** converging eighteenth ***** nineteenth century movements: Romantic*****m and 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 with 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 ***** *****, who screamed aga*****st the destruction ***** Hetch *****y *****, that part of ***** ***** "precious and sublime," and "the ***** rocks of its walls seem ***** glow with life," (356). To destroy Hetch *****y and turn it into a d*****m was akin to destroying a *****. Muir's environment*****lism solidly reflects ***** spir***** of Romantisicm at the heart of the early American environmentalist movement.

Part of the reason ***** the Romantic vision ***** nature ***** ***** increased dichotomy *****tween urban and natural life, between cities and forests. As Industrialism created bigger cities with fewer trees, people longed for an "older, simpler, truer world," (Cronon 384). Alic Hamilton shows the dark side of industrialism through her account ***** 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 environ*****ts. However, Hamilton also shows how "***** diseases" were psychological ***** social as well as physical. The pull toward profit forced men to work long hours away from


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