The so-called Utopia – the quasi-perfect society – flourishes in Margaret Cavendish’s “The Description of a New World, Called a Blazing World” and Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. While the former is a dreamlike account of fantasy rule and the latter a pseudo-realistic travelogue, both works paint a picture of worlds that are not so perfect after all. These imperfections glitter like false gemstones in the paths of these Utopians’ religious beliefs, political systems, and philosophical viewpoints.
Religion and spirituality reach into the depths of the human psyche and strongly influence a nation’s way of life. In Margaret Cavendish’s “Blazing World”, the Emperor and the inhabitants of the Blazing World worship Margaret, who renamed herself Margaret the First. Highly revered as a deity by the people, Margaret is surprised to discover that females do not have a high place in the religious fabric of the Blazing World. Women are barred from religious assemblies, because it is “promiscuous” for men and women to be together during religious worship, so women must remain at home to worship in the privacy of their rooms (Cavendish 1767). Priests and governors are made eunuchs to safeguard them from women and children who, according to Margaret’s advisors, make too much disturbances in the church and in the state. In Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, women priests are highly regarded. However, churches here are also segregated – the men sit on one side and while the women sit on the other.
Aside from thinking that the peoples of the Blazing World are segregated as Jews, Turks, or Christians because women are...
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...r recognition should not exist, yet in More’s Utopia, these beliefs exist at the very heart of the citizen’s being.
In both of the purported "Utopian" worlds, the imperfect religious traditions, rigid governing systems, and askew philosophical beliefs mar what are otherwise model worlds for all other nations to imitate. Margaret Cavendish and Sir Thomas More, in their differing styles, are able to convey that no world is perfect, but there is room for change, for everyone can fabricate their own imaginary worlds and travelogues.
Cavendish, Margaret. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. 1666, 1668. Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 2000, 1: 1765-1771.
More, Sir Thomas. Utopia. 1516. . Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 2000, 1: 1765-1771.
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