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Utopia - Book Report/Review Example

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Writing Utopia in 1516, prior to the Reformation, More recognized the problems afflicting English society and decided to put some of these problems into print. Utopia was a market success due to More’s position in society and because of its insightfulness into the issues facing their society at that specific time in history. In fact, there are many different ways to understand the book, but the most logical of these interpretations sees More’s Utopia as an indictment of overly idealistic proposals and the desire to change the structure of society in favor of something more romantic. Interpretations of Utopia can take the story in a number of ways: either as a summary of Humanist beliefs (the Humanist reading), advocacy of Christian values (the Christian reading), advocacy of communal society (a literal interpretation), or a critique of feudalism (the critique interpretation). The second book of Utopia contains a depiction of Utopian society based on Humanist beliefs of the 15th and 16th centuries. These idealizations are brought up in the first book, which introduces the readers to the utopia and the characters Thomas More and Raphael Hythloday. Overall, the book is a portrayal of the ideal society and what that society represents in terms of the contrast it creates with contemporary European civilization. One aspect of this critique is the possibility of “conspiracies”, of which the Utopians are fearful. In the conclusion of the work, Hythloday concludes by saying that Utopia is the greatest

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social order in the world; this is because “everywhere else people talk about the public good but pay attention to their own private interests. In Utopia, where there is no private property, everyone is seriously concerned with pursuing the public welfare” (More 124). This fact separates it from societies that are simply “conspiracies” of the rich, to the extent that the objective of the commonwealth is to increase their own wealth by maintaining control over the government and shaping its policies. Meanwhile, the stated goal of the government is to maintain the common welfare, which is an outright lie. Hythloday traces this state of affairs to greed and pride, which cause people to measure their welfare only by their economic status, as opposed to their total wellbeing. In Utopia, where there is no greed or pride, no one measures his worth in terms of his economic position, but rather his ability to live a good life (More 128-9). To be sure of this, the Utopians have a number of institutional checks on the possibility of “conspiracy of the prince and tranibors to change the state of the republic by oppressing the people through tyranny” (More 86). In Utopia, the difference between the rulers and the ruled is diminished by the fact that the lower class is satisfied with the material and spiritual pleasures of being in that position because there is no private property. These pleasures of the body and spirit lend Utopia to an interpretation that it supports pleasure as the ultimate purpose of the state. With pleasure, all political difficulties are resolved. The lower classes are unlikely to rise up against a system that affords them pleasure. The higher classes, in turn, are unlikely to seek

Summary

During his life, Sir Thomas More earned respect both as an intellectual and as a man of the court. Born in 1478 to a privileged background, More became a recognizable influence on the early Renaissance movement. After moving into his father’s footsteps as a lawyer, More took up the arts of writing, history, and philosophy…
Utopia
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