Review On Thomas More Utopia
Thomas More published Utopia in the year of 1516 which was around the time of the Reformation When writing Utopia, More intended his title to mean No Place. Pretty much every detail about Utopia that Hythloday gives is indirectly critiquing parts of Europe’s fundamental identity. The ending of this book leaves many questions, thus has the reader wondering if this place was simply made up, a perfect society seems impossible, and it is impossible. There are too many aspects of Utopia that completely contradict themselves.
Hythloday is clearly unhappy with the state affairs in Europe as he continuously critiques it. As the book goes on it becomes more and more apparent that he is dissatisfied with the way things are going in Europe from corruption, poverty, inequality, and violence. As he describes this differing society on a mysterious island called Utopia he begins to find relief, but even that does not last. Upon his return to Europe, he begins to come to the realization that not a lot of people are open to the idea of the social systems that Utopia uses, and from here things only get more difficult for Hythloday. It becomes clear that even if Hythloday ended up staying in Utopia, he would being to notice flaws with differing aspects of that society as well. To have a true Utopia means that everyone must be satisfied at all times, which is not possible. This even further solidifies More’s meaning of the title meaning No Place, as it is contradictory.
Pride is definitely an issue in the eyes of Hythloday, and he sees it as the main issue for everything from poverty, to bad kings, and any other social, economic, and political issue. He believes pride is the core of all other sins and issues. He explains that in Utopia, pride is never reinforced and therefore it is not an aspect of the society of Utopia. However, not all pride is bad, there are times when pride is even a positive thing and can be essential to accomplishing great things. In retrospect, Hythloday has an issue with pride himself, maybe even more than the rest of Europe as he believes he is correct about everything it takes to create a perfect society. This is another instance of contradictions.
It is apparent that Utopia is not a regular, normal island for a multitude of reasons. However, Utopia’s social organizations are likely the most blatant difference between Utopia and all other societies. In almost a proto-Communist way, Utopia is expressed as a society that lacks a class-system, hierarchies, and yes has very rigid family structures. This is such a radically different manner in which people live together, that More is going back and forth as to whether or not everyone should have equal social status, or if it is better to have some degree of social hierarchy, as it may be valuable. This lack of concrete consistency, again leads to the idea of No Place.
Utopia has tons of social commentary, and when Hythloday arrives at Utopia, he is rather bewildered by their unconventional way of eliminating wealth, they have no private property. With the lack of private ownership there is no status of wealth or even status of poverty. Therefore, people are uninterested in being rich. Hythloday likes this because he states there is no greed and therefore everyone is satisfied (except for him, because it makes him think of how greedy and money driven the society of Europe is). Again, this emphasizes that this place could not possibly be perfect. Additionally, owning things brings people joy and can make them happy, it gives them a feeling of personal independence, so it is not realistic that in a society where there is no private property, that everyone is happy. Furthermore, Hythloday claims to despise wealth, but yet he enjoys spending time with his wealthy friends and what their wealth has to offer, which is another instance of him contradicting himself.
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