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Utopia Thomas More Essay

1390 words - 6 pages


Texts reflect the ideas and values of their time and context.�
Write an essay in response to this statement. Your essay must include your view about the concept of utopia together with a detailed analysis of Thomas More's Utopia.

Sir Thomas More's Utopia is a novella that produces an entertaining depiction of an `ideal' society. Composed in the Renaissance period, More's Utopia is an ironic reflection of the ideas and values of which he was critical of in his society. The contextual influences that More was under became the catalyst for intricately examining the key ideas and values such as the quality of leadership, social equality and religious tolerance. More's Utopia is structured in a narrative way, coupled with the use of dialogue and the creation of specific personas, which allow the close examination of such ideas and values.

Contextually, More's role as Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII gave him a great insight into the way Kings ruled and their abuse of power. More lived through a time in which Europe and England were still founded on the economic models of feudalism, in which virtually all power resided with rich nobles while the lower class citizens endured a backbreaking existence that supported the lavish lifestyles of their rulers, but provided little more than a subsistence level of existence for themselves. More highlights the potential result of this abuse of power and thus the quality of leadership in Book one of his Utopia. During the discourse between More and Raphael, Raphael is presented in a position where he is an adviser to the French King in regards to matters of expansion of territory. A reflection of the extreme corruption and irrationality of European politics is evident in this extended dialogue, where the King and his advisors are `earnestly discussing ways' of `his majesty' being able to `keep a grip on Milan, and get Naples back into his clutches? How can he conquer Venice?...and finally the whole of Burgundy?'. These overwhelms of greed mirror the hunger for power that existed within the Kings in More's time. The irrationality of this exaggerated extent of expansion is raised when Raphael proposes a `complete reversal of policy', as he advises the King to completely forget about expansion and `stay at home'. More illustrates the potential result of this greed of power through Raphael, as he refers to an incident in `history of Nolandia', whereby the expansion concluded in `constant threats of internal and external agression' and where `the conditions at home were no safer than thy'd been during the war'.

To further critique the quality of leadership and abuse of power within the Kings of More's context and time, another mirror image of the ideals and values within the King's courts is illustrated in a further example. This example focuses on the court of a King set on accumulating money though manipulating his...

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