Thomas More’s Utopia

Thomas More’s Utopia
Thomas More’s use of dialogue in “Utopia” is not only practical
but masterly layed out as well. The text itself is divided into two parts. The
first , called “Book One”, describes the English society of the fifteenth
century with such perfection that it shows many complex sides of the
interpretted structure with such clarity and form that the reader is given the
freedom for interpretation as well. This flexibility clearly illustrates
More’s request for discussion and point of view from this reader. In one
concise, artistic paragraph, More clearly illustrates his proposition of the
problems people possess within a capitalist society and the fault of the
structure itself; clearly showing More’s point of view for “Book One”. If More
attempted to get anything across to the people of England it was this:
Take a barren year of failed harvests, when many thousands of men have been
carried off by hunger. If at the end of the famine the barns of the rich were
searched. I dare say positively enough grain would be found in them to have
saved the lives of all those who died from starvation and disease, if it had
been divided equally among them. Nobody really need have suffered from a bad
harvest at all. So easily might men get the necessities of life if that cursed
money, which is supposed to provide access to them, were not in fact the chief
barrier to our getting what we need to live. Even the rich, I’m sure, understand
this. They must know that it’s better to have enough of what we really need than
an abundance of superfluities, much better to escape from our many present
troubles than to be burdened with great masses of wealth. And in fact I have no
doubt that every man’s perception of where his true interest lies, along with
with the authority of Christ our Saviour….. would long ago have brought the
whole world to adopt Utopian laws, if it were not for one single monster, the
prime plague and begetter of all others—I mean pride. (More, pg.83) For one to
fully realize the significance of this virtueous paragraph they first must
remember the time period it was written; more so now that we are in the
twentieth century dominated by capitalism.

Before More accounts for his rhetorical, socialist society of “Book Two”
in detail, he strengthens his idea of communism by pre-establishing the
problems of England in “Book One”. This measurement makes one see the strengths
and weaknesses between the two; as well as, their similarities. It is
difficult to title Utopia as a socialist, communist society, in as much, it is
just as valid to argue that Utopia is as opressive as the England described in
“Book One”. If Utopia is a truely socialist state, then one can see that
opression is unescapable in either society. Either way, it just shows the
absurdity to claim either of these as an utopian commonwealth. However, it is
clear that More’s attempt was to make Utopia an egalitarian society for the
better of the people as whole. His description of the institutions Utopia is
so prescise and well formatted that it is difficult to see any flaws other than
the ones that were out of his control. More, just as anyone, was a slave of the
society he lived in. No matter how hard More tried to escape it, his morals and
values were still derived from the society he lived in. This is why one must
look at Utopia as a society designed only to better the people of the
capitalist England. It is absurd to look at Utopia as a perfect state, in as
much, the knowledge which was true to More would interfear with many areas
within the society of Utopia; More’s faith, his ignorance of the evolving
future, and the societies outside of Utopia described in “Book Two” would make
the society of Utopia a paradox. The strength of it all, is that More amazingly
knew his socialist state was not perfect; even for the society of England:
…though he is a man of unquestioned learning, and highly experienced in the
ways of the world, I cannot agree with everything he said. Yet I confess there
are many things in the Commonwealth of Utopia that I wish our own country would
imitate—-though I don’t really expect it will (More, pg. 85)
In correlation to both societies described in “Utopia”, with both
opressing the people within it, controlling their knowledge and way of life, it
is clear that utopia is impossible to reach as long as human kind is confined
to any institution. The difference between the two societies is seen when one
looks at where this opression stems from. England’s capitalist society is
structured in such a way that it allows the people within it to opress or be
opressed by each other. In Utopia the oppression is derived not from the
people but from the structure itself. Therefore, a capitalist societies’
structure allows more freedom for the people than the egalitarian society; thus,
ironically, it is argueable to state that capitalism is more socialist than
socialism. The problem of a capitalist society stems not from its’ structure but
from the people within it. In contrast, the people of the socialist society are
all equal; yet, what makes this possible is the structures’ control over the
people. Both societies have strengths and weaknesses. Untill humankind can be
resocialized losing the terms power, greed , and pride from our vocabulary,
will there be terms like opression and freedom in it as well. The only
possibillity for this, is if humankind is confined within a similar society as
described by More called Utopia; then evolve into a society with the same
structural freedoms like capitalism. Therfore, for the capitalist England of
the fifteenth century, More’s society in “Book Two” was not his ideal utopian
state; but a path leading towards it.

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As you can see, More’s liturary dialogue called “Utopia”, as stressed
through out this essay, is not an attempt to illustrate an utopian society, and
would be a parodox if done so. I think one get’s this false interpretation
through the title of the text and the name of his socialist imaginary state
with perfect political, social, conditions or constitution.”(pg.395) It also
states that “Utopia” is derived from the Greek words “no place”. If More had
this definition in mind it would clarify the a majority of the ambiguities
within the context of the text, also illustrating even more of the opression
More faced in England; as well as, his fear of it. More’s “Utopia was done in
such a way to enlighten the people of England about their opressing capitalist
society. Instead of leaving the reader with a sense of hopelessness, he gives an
alternative society; not to make the reader interpret it as an ideal society
to want over England’s, but make one realize the possibility of change. It is
aimed to make one contemplate on the weaknesses and strengths of their own
society and how to go about changing it to better the common wealth of their
people as a whole


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