Cronon-Thoreau Dichotomy?

Sure enough, Cronon and Thoreau mention many similar topics in both “The Trouble With Wilderness” and “Walking” respectively. Both mention many topics on wilderness and even happen to hold similar opinions. The western frontier is a very prevalent example of this. Both authors mention how people are in love with the idea of the frontier because it promotes such rugged character and individualism among people. In “Walking,” this is even further elaborated on by Thoreau saying that he himself would probably not find “fair landscapes or sufficient wildness and freedom” (11) within the east. Both authors also mention at least a brief history of the wilderness: Although people initially feared the wild, they eventually settled and began construction, changing wilderness for the worst. Both writers go on to state their opinions of the wilderness, which are also surprisingly similar.

Cronon believes that there is nature everywhere. He even believes that humans are also a part of nature; thus, they should be taking care of the environment more and realizing that facets of their everyday lives happen to encompass the wild. Thoreau also believes that humans are a small part of wilderness, but more in a sense where the farmers working the land tend to be “scarcely more obvious” (Thoreau 7) than the animals burrowing in the ground. This is where I believe that both authors’ beliefs overlap. Besides that, there seems to be a slight dichotomy between both opinions of nature. In contrast to Cronon’s belief, Thoreau believes that nature is more of a spiritual experience. He claims that the wilderness is more enjoyable and open when in its prime state: raw, free, and unclaimed. He also seems to believe that it takes a hyper-aware person to have this revelation as well as to enjoy walking through nature. Personally, I think that this comes off as a very pretentious belief. This is possibly the very reason that Cronon refers to Thoreau’s “stern loneliness”. I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the wilderness in their own rite. With these differing opinions that we’ve been exposed to in this class thus far, I have the feeling that nature is truly what you make it out to be; therefore, anyone can enjoy just as much as Cronon and Thoreau.

4 Replies to “Cronon-Thoreau Dichotomy?”

  1. I agree! I think they can both agree of a few things, namely the free and wild experience of nature. I feel like Thoreau’s view is very unapproachable, he seems to think nature isn’t an everyday life thing. Cronon believes nature can be woven into our normal society, and I think in most ways I agree with that more than the isolated nature of Thoreau.

  2. Yeah! I noticed that Thoreau is more spiritual because he mentions that we can not find true enjoyment and happiness in nature and walking without God! It comes from God!

  3. Ivy, your response made me laugh when you said you thought this was a bit pretentious, but you aren’t wrong about it. There shouldnt be regulations to how you can enjoy nature and the wilderness.

  4. I totally agree with your idea that nature is more of a perceptional experience, and that everyone an enjoy nature. I think that Thoreau’s opinions fell victim to the years and do not still stand as innovative today. His ideas about giving up everything and sauntering around is unrealistic in today’s society, and I think that Cronon’s notion of environmental justice is a much more modern version of Thoreau’s conservationism.

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