Utopias often describe the ideal society as a perfect harmony between male and female, black and white, rich and poor.
To begin, an overview of utopian history is needed. The utopian lineage is as old as the Earth itself. Specifically, it started in the Garden of Eden, which is considered the ultimate utopia. After that, the next major utopia is described in Plato’s The Republic. According to Plato, as along as the major people classes live justly with one another, the overall society will be in harmony. Next published was Thomas More’s Utopia.
“Possibly the quintessential utopia, Utopia (the full Latin title is De Optimo Republicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia) was written during that great flowering of European culture which was the Renaissance: the Americas were recently ‘discovered’, humanist scholars flourished, the Protestant Reformation was in the air and all things seemed possible” (Mastin).
Interestingly enough, there are significant differences between Utopia and The Republic. According to More, key components of a perfect society consists of a minimal governmental control, a strong family unit, no private property or currency, and a six-hour work day. But Plato’s ideal republic materializes very differently.
In regards to religion, utopias are somewhat ambiguous. In general, either exclusive or inclusive religious communities were created. The Puritans were exclusive.
“Religious exclusiveness was the foremost principle of their society. The spiritual beliefs that they held were strong. This strength held over to include community laws and customs. Since God was at the forefront of their minds, He was to motivate all of their actions. This premise worked both for them and against them” (Kizer).
There were multiple beneficial traits to this principle. It created a sense a community, yet made each person independent and responsible for his actions. In the modern church, these beliefs permeate church doctrine. At the same time, however, there is a sense of exclusion, judgment, and superiority. Other communities took the opposite, or inclusive, approach, such as the polycultural groups. These groups coveted a perfect culture where they were free to express themselves in any form and still be accepted for who they are. Writers, artists, and musicians are the most notorious for this. Take, for instance, Lady Gaga’s song, “Born This Way”: “No matter gay, straight, or bi / lesbian, transgendered life / I'm on the right track baby / I was born to survive.” While this sounds acceptable in theory, it abolishes absolute truth [statistics from Barna Group in 2009 support this: 34% of Americans believe in absolute moral truth (Group)]. Ultimately, all religious, or not so religious, groups are searching for that perfect society.
Utopian literature even influenced the feminist movement. There are two predominant trends in feminist utopian material: creating equal rights for women and eliminating genders. In the first approach, women sought to...