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There are several thematic models of the relationship between humans and nature in literary texts.
In the Rousseauian model, nature is benevolent and humans are naturally good. The opposition between man and nature is due to the evils of civilization, and thus by abandoning the artifices which separate us from nature we can return to an Edenic state. The innocent man can survive in a state of nature by casting off civilized habits.
In Hobbes, nature is hostile and man totally depraved (in an almost Calvinist sense, despite Hobbes himself being an atheist). Life is nasty, brutish, and short. Natural and human depravity can only be tamed by an absolute rule of law enforced by a despot, with humans surviving by taming or conquering both the natural world and their own nature by force.
Atwood suggests that in Canadian literature, people are seen as the victims of nature, and survive by forms of almost creative victimhood.
Man is so simple in comparison to nature. Nature is universally overpowering. It is due to nature that we continue to grow, because it is due to nature that we are forced through the cycle of life. Whilst man continues to develop through time, he must find ways in which to survive, all the time, as there are risks with every task in life. Therefore man must continually be able to learn and interpret environmental stimuli. Learning is a crucial process in order for the world as a whole to develop, and therefore in order for the world to change for the better and become more knowledgable through time.
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