Essay on Utopia No More

From the American Revolution to independence movements in Latin America, the forming a commonwealth free of vice, tyranny, and inequality has always been one of man’s greatest intentions. In this commonwealth, everyone’s needs are met, society is free of all hierarchies, and everyone works for the common good. However, history has proved that this commonwealth can never truly exist. On a rudimentary level, it is impossible for any large group to properly function without someone or a group of people creating and enforcing the necessary laws and customs. On a deeper level, it seems impossible to eschew avarice, inequality, war, and many other aspects commonwealths face. Sir Thomas More, a lawyer, statesman, and philosopher imagined this perfect commonwealth and dubbed it, Utopia. In Utopia, Sir Thomas More describes a place where all citizens are content with their lives and there is no social inequality. However, readers easily notice contradictions that are present in this seemingly perfect place. In their treatment of gold and iron, slaves, and gender roles, Utopians prove to readers that a commonwealth free of hierarchies, vice, and tyranny can never truly exist.Before reading Utopia, it is essential that the reader understand that like Jonathan Swift’s, A Modest Proposal, Utopia is satirical. More creates a frame narrative in which Raphael Hythloday, the novel’s main character, recollects his observations of Utopia during his five-year stay. Hythloday spares no detail in his descriptions of Utopia, as he discusses everything from their military practices, foreign relations, religion, philosophy, and marriage customs. Interestingly enough, everything Hythloday discusses in Book II seems to be a direct response to of all of t…

…n’s subjectivity to men is the Utopian practice that occurs on the day of “Last-feast”. On this day, “wives kneel before their husbands…to confess their various sins of commission or of negligence and beg forgiveness for their offenses” furthermore, women and men do not worship in the same area of the temple (91). Although separating sexes during worship was not and is not a new concept, this practice, once again contradicts the idea of a commonwealth existing and functioning with a society free of hierarchies.Whether the Utopians are being examined for their value of precious metals, the treatment of women, or how they worship, it is evident that there are some major inequalities within their society. However, any reader of More’s Utopia must have the ability to look past the tensions that are present, and read the work as More intended it to be read—satirically.

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