The Political Structure of More’s Utopia

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Over the past few centuries the word "utopia" has developed a variety of meanings: a perfect state, paradise, heaven on earth, but the original definition of the word means something quite different. "Utopia", coined by Saint Thomas More in his famous work Utopia, written during the English Renaissance, literally means "nowhere". It is ironic that a word meaning nowhere has become a catchall phrase for paradise. More’s work is popular because of its wit, its use of metaphor, and its proposals for the perfect state. The work is claimed by Nicholas Paine Gilman in Socialism and the American Spirit to be: a masterpiece of wit, written by a man who knew the world, and sent forth this book, inspired by Colet and Erasmus, not as a sure prophecy of the form civilization must take in a thousand years or less, but as a quickener of human sympathy and a stimulus for thought and faith in man (353). The work is a masterpiece of metaphor written by a man with a tremendous imagination, an imagination that created a country called Utopia, that means "nowhere" with a capital city called Amaurote that means “"dimly seen",” with a "waterless" river, Anyder, flowing by (Gilman). Utopia has caught the imagination of millions through the years with its government run by and for the people, its elimination of private property, and its care for the elderly. It is a place that seems to good to be true, and it most likely is. A state of Utopia has never existed in the world and will never exist, but a number of ideas suggested by More have either become a reality or have inspired further discussion of the perfect state. The type of government More proposes and the manner in which he proposes it will run has spurred a tre... ... middle of paper ... ...ithout worrying where their next meal will come from or how to pay the mortgage. Superficially, Utopia seems like the perfect state where “the whole island is like a single family” (More 83). It appears to be a perfectly run communal socialist living environment, but a closer reading reveals something much different. After all, Utopia and all its rules were created by a King. The King developed Utopia exactly how he wanted it to be. Therefore, Utopia is not a true communist, socialist, or democratic state. While More probably “would have liked to see rather than hope” for many of the living conditions, in the end, the old English monarchy shines through. Did More really want to change the world? One will never know. The only answer I do know is that Utopia and the idea of the perfect state will be discussed for eternity. Huberman Sir Ernest Barker More
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