Setting the Scene in Environmental Fiction: Kenneth Burke and the Frontier Myth
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It is difficult to ignore the environmental problems facing the world as a whole. Humanity has always produced stories in response to cultural movements and global problems. Recent pieces of environmental media can give insight into how Americans see their environment, the issues facing it, and potential paths forward. I examine James Cameron’s Avatar, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Bethesda Softworks’ Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and apply Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic pentad to the iterations of the frontier thesis found in the three media. I focus on the protagonists present in each work, determining how they are placed within the Burkean “scene” and concluding whether or not each protagonist is “successful” as an environmental hero.