Thomas More's Utopia And His Context

3527 words - 14 pages

Utopia is Sir Thomas More’s seminal work, depicting a fictitious island and its religious, social, and political customs. Working as an advisor to King Henry VIII, More was aware of the issues of his time such as ridiculous inflation, corruption, wars for little or no purpose, courtly ostentation, the abuse of power by the absolute monarchs, and the maltreatment of the poor. Consequently, More used Utopia to contrast some unique and refreshing political ideas with the chaotic politics of his own country. It is important to note that More did not intend to provide an exact blueprint for a perfect society, rather he merely presents his ideas in the form of a political satire, revealing the evils of his time.

More wrote his novel in 1516, a time when the first phase of the Renaissance was over, and the Reformation was about to break. The pioneer architects, Brunelleschi, Alberti and Bramante were dead, Michelangelo had just completed the Sistine Chapel and as working on the completion of St Peter’s, Leonardo da Vinci had only three years to live and Raphael, four. Machiavelli had completed The Prince in 1513 and the Medicis had just returned to Florence after 20 years’ exile following the reign of Savonarola. More was directly linked to the Italian humanist tradition through his teacher at Oxford University, Grocyn, who had studied at Florence and Rome. But he was also a close friend of Erasmus, whose outspoken criticism of the church had been described as the ‘egg that Luther hatched when he launched the Reformation’. In 1517, one year after the completion of Utopia, Luther published his 95 theses, and the subsequent movement put an end to the hopes of men such as More and Erasmus that reform in the church might be achieved without a final split.

Sir Thomas More describes the society and culture of an imaginary island on which all social ills have been cured. As in Plato's Republic, a work from which More drew while writing Utopia, More's work In Book 1 presents his ideas through a dialogue between two characters, Raphael Hythloday and More himself. Hythloday is a fictional character who describes his recent voyage in Book 2 to the paradise of Utopia. Throughout the work, Hythloday describes the laws, customs, system of government, and way of life that exist in Utopia to an incredulous and somewhat condescending More.

The letters at the beginning of the novel raise questions about the reality or the verisimilitude of Utopia, as well as the accuracy of More’s reporting. More asks Gilles to ‘check if [he] has left anything out’. More also questions the accuracy of ‘the distance of the bridge across the river Nowater at Aircastle’, which he believes to be 500 yards, but his assistant believes it was 200 yards. He admits that ‘if you say I’m wrong, I’ll assume that I’ve made a mistake’. This shows More’s indecisiveness of getting the facts right.

Ironically, More uses paradoxes in regards to his naming of places and characters....

Find Another Essay On Thomas More's Utopia and His Context

Thomas More's Utopia Essay

1244 words - 5 pages Thomas More’s Utopia is a work of ambiguous dualities that forces the reader to question More’s real view on the concept of a utopian society. However, evidence throughout the novel suggests that More did intend Utopia to be the “best state of the commonwealth.” The detailed description of Utopia acts as Mores mode of expressing his humanistic views, commenting on the fundamentals of human nature and the importance of reason and natural law

Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia

656 words - 3 pages What is it about Thomas More's Utopia that makes it as accessible and relevant to a 21st century westernized Catholic teenage boy as it did to an 18th century middle aged Jewish women? Utopia, a text written 500 odd years ago in differing country and language, is still a valid link to a contemporary understanding of society, human nature and morals. Through More's Utopia, it becomes evident that the trans-historical and trans-cultural nature of

Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia

6081 words - 24 pages Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia The historical Thomas More, the author of Utopia, was an extraordinarily complicated man who tied up all the threads of his life in his heroic death. The Utopia is the sort of complicated book that we should expect from so complicated a man. It is heavy with irony, but then irony was the experience of life in the Sixteenth Century. Everywhere--in church, government, society, and even scholarship

reform In thomas More's Utopia

1880 words - 8 pages a lawyer, the character More, Peter Giles, and Cardinal Morton. The main purpose of these characters is to criticize from certain perspectives against his idea. However, there is an opposite effect in which the criticism creates reinforcement for Raphael’s reform. To begin with, Thomas More’s Utopia was published in 1516 before the reformation began but still during the renaissance. The renaissance was the rebirth of the classics. Part of this

Comparing Sir Thomas More's Utopia and Virgil's Aeneid

2376 words - 10 pages Identity and Power in Sir Thomas More's Utopia and Virgil's Aeneid In Utopia and the Aeneid, Sir Thomas More and Virgil describe the construction and perpetuation of a national identity. In the former, the Utopian state operates on the “inside” by enforcing, through methods of surveillance, a normalized identity on its citizens under the guise of bettering their lives. In the latter, the depleted national identity of the future Romans in

Thomas More's Utopia and its impact on English society during the Renaissance

1447 words - 6 pages The "Middle" Ages were followed by the Renaissance, a time in which art and literature flourished. Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance, was born in London during this period. More's style is simple because of its colloquial language but a deeper look into his irony hints at deep dissatisfaction with the current thought and desire for change. "Utopia" (which in Greek means "nowhere") is the name of More's fictional island

Visions of a Perfect Society Illustrated in Machiavelli's The Prince and Thomas More's Utopia

518 words - 2 pages When people think about the ‘perfect’ society, all will have a different idea on the topic. For example, Thomas More wrote in ‘Utopia’ of a society where all of the cities were exactly the same. Whereas Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about how a society should be ruled in ‘The Prince.’ Both works paint a portrait of leadership and laws, as well as life and society. In ‘The Prince’, Machiavelli isn’t describing the aspects of a perfect society, he is

"The Utopia" of Book Two is a clear expression of More's reaction to his own context. Explain with specific examples from the book

985 words - 4 pages Thomas More's context was 16th century England, which entailed the Humanist movement. Thomas More constantly shifted between the ideals of Humanist philosophy and service to his king and country. The period leading up to the writing of Utopia swelled a massive personal dilemma within More between philosophical idealism and worldly pragmatism. It can be witnessed in More's novel Utopia, that Book Two is a clear expression of Thomas More's own

Thomas More' s Utopia, In what ways does Utopia function as a critique of More's time?

891 words - 4 pages that Thomas More talks about.In general we can say that Thomas More critisizes Henry VII and his behaviours on the city. So The Utopia functions on the opposite way of More's time.Thomas More talks about Religion in Utopia. Especially Utopus' opinions about the religion is very important here because Henry VII's opinions are very wrong for Thomas More. He shows us his own opinions by this. Utopus says that maybe The God wants people to show their

Utopia by Sir Thomas More this is sort of a comparison essay on More and Machiavelli but it is moer about More and his book, Utopia

1061 words - 4 pages to cheat on one another. More brings out many issues that he resents in Europe but he does this safely by having a dissenting opinion of Europe and also has someone who is in compliance with the way Europe is run. More's Utopia, calls for a more perfect society. Therefore, I chose Sir Thomas More.

Utopia and more's age

1839 words - 7 pages When Thomas More wrote his book Utopia the influence of Renaissance and Reformhad been spreading its influence over Europe and England.The Renaiisance movement has in its roots the rejuvanation of the interest in ancient greek culture and the re-examination of the works of Plato.Another movement which made its repercussions be strongly felt all over the continent was the Reformation against which the Catholic church of the times was in fierce

Similar Essays

Thomas More's Utopia Essay

1502 words - 6 pages Throughout Thomas More's Utopia, he is able to successfully criticize many of the political, social, and economic ways of the time. His critique of feudalism and capitalism would eventually come back to haunt him, but would remain etched in stone forever. On July 6, 1535, by demand of King Henry VIII, More was beheaded for treason. His last words stood as his ultimate feeling about royalty in the 15th and 16th centuries, "The King's good

Thomas More's Utopia Essay

2018 words - 8 pages common, had just come into play. Small-time farmers were being run out of business, forced into poverty. Sir Thomas More, of course, encouraged such land privatization as Lord Chancellor. However, in Utopia, Hythloday very quickly and subtly explains that among Utopians, "there being no property among them, every man may freely enter into any house whatsoever" (72). This jarring contrast, between More's political support of privatization and his

Thomas More's "Utopia" Essay

1563 words - 6 pages Is America a modern feudal society?In 1516, Sir Thomas More also known as the patron saint of lawyers book "Utopia" was first published. In Utopia More discusses the European power politics of his day through a novel, which serves as a political discourse spoken from a fictional character by the name of Raphael Hythloday. Hythloday's character is used as a mouthpiece so Thomas More can critically discuss the politics of England, catholic church

Thomas More's Utopia Essay

1396 words - 6 pages Thomas More’s Utopia is a work of ambiguous dualities that forces the reader to question More’s real view on the concept of a utopian society. However, evidence throughout the novel suggests that More did intend Utopia to be the “best state of the commonwealth.” The detailed description of Utopia acts as Mores mode of expressing his humanistic views, commenting on the fundamentals of human nature and the importance of reason and natural law