American Character in Wilderness

Topics: Wilderness, Agriculture, United States Pages: 4 (1361 words) Published: February 3, 2013
American Character in Wilderness
In The Trouble with Wilderness, William Cronon investigates the concept of wilderness and states that the concept partially results from Americans' obsession with the idea of frontier. He points out that many Americans celebrate wilderness because as the frontier, it forms American national character and identity. Thomas Cole is an example of the adherents of wilderness that Cronon refers to. In Essay on American Scenery, Cole conveys his devotion to wilderness as the frontier exactly for the reason that Cronon indicates: wilderness forms American national character and identity. Through comparing the American landscape to the European landscape in different parts of nature such as mountains, forests, and water systems, Cole concludes that American national character is consisted of the primitivism and originality reflected in American wilderness, whereas the completely cultivated and civilized Europe lacks characters. Cole first compares American mountains to European mountains. He describes American mountains as "generally clothed to the summit by dense forests", whereas "those of Europe are mostly bare" (Cole 267). Cole indicates that American mountains differ from European mountains in the coverage rate of woods. The density of woods covering American mountains largely surpass that of Europe. Cole further intensifies the comparison. He admits that European mountains are "more picturesque in form, and there is a grandeur in their nakedness" (Cole 267), but he thinks that the dense woods make American mountains "more than an equivalent" (Cole 267). Even though European mountains may look magnificent lacking plant cover, Cole thinks that the beauty of American mountains with abundant vegetation exceeds the grandeur of naked European mountains. Cole ascribes the discrepancy between American mountains and European mountains to the civilization of European landscape and the relatively uncultivated state of...
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