Relationship Between Literature And The Environment Essay

Relationship Between Literature And The Environment Essay

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The relationship between literature and the environment is known as ecocriticism. This relationship, however, is symbiotic. This means that only one side is being benefited. In this case, the environment is at a disadvantage. Ecocritics turn away from social constructivism, but it would seem that nature is a social construct. It is a symbol that is given power and meaning by those who create it. Literature is also a man-made concept. My aim in this paper is to critique two poems (Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Where Mountain Lion Lay Down with Deer”, and Ted Hughes’ “Hawk Roosting”) through an ecocriticism viewpoint, and try to answer the question, is there any true environment left?
The poem “Where Mountain Lion Lay Down with Deer” written by Silko is about the poet going back to where she was born to recreate lost memories. In this poem one can see that the past and present come together with the use of language. She uses imagery to show the beauty of the natural environment. Her viewpoint is animistic, meaning the viewer sees inhuman objects having an essence. This is a common view of Native Americans. In class we briefly discussed the topic of a true environment. Silko is writing about an environment that might not be completely untouched by human developments, thus making it a not-true environment.
In her poem, Silko uses adjectives such as “crushing” and “tumbling” to describe the mountains and canyons she is viewing. Readers could interpret this as nature being tainted by human hands. Karl Kroeber, who was a literature scholar, wrote Home at Grasmere: Ecological Holiness, which is a critique of Wordsworth’s nature-based poems. In this critique he makes a point about how “many now believe that to preserve our humanness we must pres...


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...through its representation of anthromorphism, the text argues creation beginnings. In this way, the text contradicts existing views of how humans and animals have changed over time due to evolutionary changes. The hawk claims that nothing has changed since he was created, however, much has changed to contradict this claim.
“Where Lion Lay Down with Deer” and “Hawk Roosting” are prime examples of ecocriticism in literature. The former points out the natural beauties of environment, while the latter takes an assertive tone about animalistic views of nature. Within the lines of the poems one can see that both poets have a different view of a “natural environment.” It is hard to say which viewpoint is right and not, since the topic is subjective. However, in the case of there being a true environment, I would argue that there is no place that is unaffected by humans.

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