The Trouble with Wilderness

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dirtybird2012
Words 1060
Pages 5
Drew S****
Professor X
ENGL
1 April 2013
Wilderness
The meaning of wilderness has changed over time, and today there is a debate surrounding the meaning of wilderness. William Cronon says in “The Trouble with Wilderness”, “As late as the eighteenth century, the most common usage of the word ‘wilderness’ in the English language referred to landscapes that generally carried adjectives far different from the ones they attract today. To be a wilderness then was to be ‘deserted,’ ‘savage,’ ‘desolate,’ ‘barren’—in short, a ‘waste,’ the word’s nearest synonym” (Cronon 165). To most people today wilderness is a place untouched by humans and home to nature and the sublime. William Cronon claims that we should view wilderness as part of us and everything around us. The wilderness is a place unaltered by humans, these places are disappearing and we need to protect them. William Cronon’s “The Trouble with Wilderness” presents an interesting view on what wilderness is. His view is completely different from both the old definition and the current definition. He says, “It is not the things we label as wilderness that are the problem, but rather what we ourselves mean when we use the label” (Cronon 174). Cronon doesn’t believe that the things we currently define as wilderness shouldn’t be called wilderness, but he believes that there is a problem with only recognizing certain places to be wilderness. In his essay Cronon says, “If wild nature is the only thing worth saving, and if our mere presence destroys it, then the sole solution to our own unnaturalness, the only way to protect sacred wilderness from profane humanity, would seem to be suicide. It is not a proposition that seems likely to produce very positive or practical results” (Cronon 176). In this quote he is pointing out the flaw is some environmentalists view, I agree that this idea is flawed. Cronon instead…...

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