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. "The 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 wilderness evoked terror, not joy. By the end ***** the 19th century, due to shifts in ***** ideology as well ***** to the effects of industrialism, ***** American concept of ***** 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 ***** refer to ***** areas ***** spiritual terms. Speaking out against ***** 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 Hetchy as "precious and sublime" ***** like other environmentalists of his *****, used Biblical imagery to support his views. Cronon also shows how the use ***** ***** imagery proves how deeply ingrained the ***** of wilderness h***** be***** in the American psyche. The Bible presents two dualistically opposed views of wilderness: the Eden of the proverbial garden and the dangerous ***** ***** the desert. It is precisely this dualistic worldview that is at the root of the conflicts within the environmental *****.

Wilderness was, according to Cronon, a product ***** ***** converging eighteenth ***** nineteenth century movements: Romantic*****m and the Frontier/Wild West/Manifest Destiny spirit. "The two converged to remake wilderness in ********** 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 Hetchy Valley, that part of ***** was "precious ***** sublime," and "the ***** rocks of its walls seem to glow with life," (356). To destroy Hetch *****y and turn it into a d*****m was akin to destroying a temple. Muir's environment*****lism solidly reflects the spir***** of Romantisicm at ***** heart of the early American environmentalist movement.

Part of ***** reason for the Romantic vision of nature was ***** increased dichotomy between urban and 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 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 th***** resulted directly from unclean, polluted factory environ*****ts. However, Hamilton also shows how "***** diseases" ***** psychological ***** social as well as physical. The pull toward profit forced men to work long hours away from


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