Essay on Thomas More’s Utopia

Thomas More’s Utopia is a work of ambiguous dualities that forces the reader to question More’s real view on the concept of a utopian society. However, evidence throughout the novel suggests that More did intend Utopia to be the “best state of the commonwealth.” The detailed description of Utopia acts as Mores mode of expressing his humanistic views, commenting on the fundamentals of human nature and the importance of reason and natural law, while gracefully combining the two seemingly conflicting ideals of communism and liberalism. The presence of satirical irony and contradiction clearly defines Utopia as an unobtainable goal, though goal that all societies must pursue nonetheless.

In essence, Utopia is a written manifestation of More’s humanist beliefs. Many of these views are vicariously present in the character of Raphael Hythloday. For example, Hythloday comments on the unwillingness of Kings to take advice from others, claiming they are “drenched as they are and infected with false values from boyhood and on” (More, 2011, p. 28). The idea of “infection” implies that a man is not naturally corrupt or sinful, but rather pure at heart and simply influenced by the environment an individual is exposed to. This is a key humanist concept, which suggests that human nature is malleable and inconstant, and therefore can be positively influenced to do good. Raphael later states, “Pride is too deeply fixed in human nature to be easily plucked out” (More, 2011, p. 98) Though this may seem contradictory to his previous statement, Hythloday still suggests that human nature can be changed, though he candidly admits that it is difficult. More is attempting to illustrate his own hesitations of serving the King through the conversation b…

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… societies I would wish rather than expect to see” (More, 2011, p. 97). More closes the novel by stating that though Utopia should be a role model for society, to reach the standards displayed by the Utopian commonwealth is not to be expected. Nevertheless, pursuing a society like that of Utopia could only improve the state of the commonwealth.

Thomas More’s detailed and thoughtful creation of Utopia truly serves as an example of the perfect state. The presence of his own humanist ideas, including the variability of human nature and the importance of reason suggest that Utopia is a translation of his own beliefs, while inclusion of satire and contradiction distinctly marks Utopia as unattainable, yet noble and beneficial goal that society should strive to work towards.

Work Cited

More, Thomas. Utopia. Trans. Robert M. Adams. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 2011.

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