A SECOND LOOK AT WILDERNESS: A SUMMARY OF WILLIAM CRONON’S “THE TROUBLE WITH WILDERNESS; OR, GETTING BACK TO THE WRONG NATURE” In the past several decades, wilderness has been illustrated as the sole standing retreat for civilization to escape to when our world becomes overwhelming. In William Cronon’s The Trouble With Wilderness; or, Getting Back to The Wrong Nature, he preaches how over time our definition of wilderness has completely changed. Today, we define the concept of the wild as natural areas as perhaps a cottage, resort, or national park. In his article, Cronon deems that our society has the wrong perception of wilderness by reminding us of how historically this wasn’t the case. He believes that there is nothing natural about how we view wilderness, as our interpretations towards it have changed from savage life to a safe retreat. Our society is certain need to protect our land from human activity. However, Cronon’s proposition is that the only way we can preserve nature from human activity would be to all commit suicide. The following short analysis examines Cronon’s ideology towards wilderness. Going back 250 years ago in American as well as European history, people were never found wandering in remote areas. People focused their lives around biblical views in which the wild was a savage and deserted area. “The wilderness,” Cronon explains, “was where Christ had struggled with the devil and endured his temptations.” In other words, the wild was where someone went against their will and in fear. Fast forwarding to the nineteenth century, everything had changed. In 1869, John Muir described his view of Sierra Nevada by saying, “No description of Heaven that I have ever heard or read of seems half so fine”. America then began to be explored and by 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park with many following. To think, only fifty years prior, nature preservation was completely unheard of. William Cronan classifies two sources as the sublime...
References: Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” In Uncommon Ground, 69-90. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995.
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