Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello Essay

Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello Essay

Length: 886 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello


The definition of virtue varies between cultures and societies. Utopian ideas of virtue do not necessarily agree with Biblical or Elizabethan England views, however, More’s "Utopia," the Biblical accounts in Genesis of Joseph and Jacob, and Shakespeare’s "Othello" all present the concept of virtue prevailing over vice. Although at times vice may appear to triumph over virtue, ultimately poetry presents virtue as superior based on the differing definitions of virtue. The punishment of vice and advocacy of virtue is a popular theme of literature and the reason why Sir Philip Sidney correctly asserts that poetry encourages virtue and condemns vice as repulsive.

More’s "Utopia" advocates the pursuit of virtue, however, virtue is defined as a type of hedonism. Utopians follow a unique definition of virtue, which advocates a life of pleasure and the pursuit of happiness. Virtue is considered living the way people are designed to live, or according to nature. Utopians believe this translates as living a life based on achieving pleasure. The Utopian definition of pleasure may include helping other people, humanitarian views which are still advocated in the 21st century, but definitely does not include working hard for painful "virtue" which they consider not true virtue at all if you must deprive yourself and suffer misery. A virtuous life is encouraged by the punishment of crime, or vice. Utopians reward virtue, and punish those who attempt crime. Strict slavery is the punishment for violating wedding vows, and the other punishments are determined based on the extent of the crime. More’s fictional world of Utopia contrasts virtue and vice in society and upholds virtue as...


... middle of paper ...


...e and despised character who endeavors to escape the misery of his life through suicide. The virtuous character of Cassio, shows the ultimate success and triumph of virtue over vice as he attains worldly success and defeats Iago, who is full of vice. These complex literary characters present morality as desirable and vices as deplorable.

The narratives of Genesis, "Utopia," and Othello" all exemplify the achievements and victories of virtuous characters or traits. The failures and miseries inherently connected with vices are also presented. These literary works corroborate Sir Philip’s claim that poetry presents virtue in a light so "that one must needs be enamored of her." It can be assumed, therefore, that the study of literary works such as these can only improve morals and virtues, and for the good of American society, all students should major in Literature.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Virtue and Vice of Reason in More's Utopia Essay

- The Virtue and Vice of Reason in More's Utopia  When reason permeates society, it does not necessarily imply greater happiness. When brought to the point of rationalization, or when there are errors in the analysis used in reasoning, reason tends to have adverse effects. On the other hand, when analysis is well thought out, and the correct conclusions are drawn, reason can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on a society. Many may think that Sir Thomas More's Utopia infers that reason must be the foundation, and even the preoccupation, of any perfect society....   [tags: Thomas More Utopia Essays Papers]

Better Essays
1416 words (4 pages)

Concepts Of Utopia And Dystopia Essay

- A utopia is an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities. Utopia provides perfect life for its citizen. Best definition is perfect society. ("Utopia - Definition, Elements, Concepts, Societies, Communities," 2016, p. 1) Dystopia represents the artificially created world or society in which human population lives under the rule of the oppressive government. Dystopia represents a vision of a fictional society that is made imperfect and flawed by the influences of terrorism, poverty, misery and advanced technologies....   [tags: Utopia, Dystopia, Utopian and dystopian fiction]

Better Essays
1102 words (3.1 pages)

The Basis of Utopia Essay

- The Basis of Utopia An impractical scheme for social improvement. This is the third definition of the word utopia in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary. Anatole France says it best with this quote regarding utopian societies, „Without the Utopias of other times, men would still live in caves, miserable and naked. It was Utopians that traced the lines of the first city· Out of generous dreams come beneficial realities. Utopia is the principle of all progress, and the essay into a better future.„ The world has been constantly changing over time, new ideas pave paths that lead to better living....   [tags: Utopia Utopias Essays]

Better Essays
1199 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on The And Of The Bible

- It has always been much speculated, and little doubt exists that the bible was not the work of any single author, but a collection of anecdotes by many. Jews and Christians in their millions believe that the holy texts came directly from god, Hebrews certain that the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses, ot the Torah is none other than godâs word, even though modern theologians concede that the whole was written by many, who preached diverse ideologies, linguistic styles and indeed a whole range of names for God as they saw the deity....   [tags: Bible, Torah, Criticism of the Bible]

Better Essays
1221 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Socialism and Thomas More's Utopia

- Socialism and Thomas More's Utopia        Socialist ideals have recurred throughout the history of literature; from Plato to Marx the elusive goal of a perfect state has occupied some of the best minds in political thought manifesting itself in literature. In the midst of this historic tradition is the Utopia of More, a work which links the utopias of the ancient with the utopias of the modern. Hythloday's fantasy island draws heavily on the Greek Republic and yet it influenced the revolutionary world of Marx....   [tags: More Utopia Essays]

Better Essays
2357 words (6.7 pages)

Thomas More's Utopia as a Social Model Essays

- Thomas More's Utopia as a Social Model    In his famous work Utopia, Sir Thomas More describes the society and culture of an imaginary island on which all social ills have been cured. As in Plato's Republic, a work from which More drew while writing Utopia, More's work presents his ideas through a dialogue between two characters, Raphael Hythloday and More himself. Hythloday is a fictional character who describes his recent voyage to the paradisal island of Utopia. Throughout the work, Hythloday describes the laws, customs, system of government, and way of life that exist in Utopia to an incredulous and somewhat condescending More....   [tags: Thomas More Utopia]

Better Essays
1248 words (3.6 pages)

Walden's Utopia Essay

- Walden's Utopia In a post-World War Two era, there was much longing for improvement on current society. Burrhus F. Skinner decided to give his take on what he felt were the appropriate steps to take in order to make a true "Utopia." There have been attempts at other utopia's (which is from the Greek for "no place") and Skinner in his book took the best elements of each utopia and put them into one. However, this does not mean that this utopia he creates in his story, called Walden Two, emulating Thoreau's Walden Pond in Maine, is not without flaws....   [tags: Walden Philosophy No Place Utopia]

Free Essays
1695 words (4.8 pages)

Visions of Utopia Essay example

-      Humans have grasped at the concept of "Utopia" for millennia. In his editorial for the September 1983 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, editor Isaac Asimov provided a concise history of utopian literature. According to Asimov, the history of utopian literature began with religious tales of past golden ages or future paradises. (Asimov gives the examples of the Genesis story of creation and expulsion from the Garden of Eden as an example of the first and the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, which contains the famous line "the lion shall lay down with the calf," as an example of the second.) Utopian literature was first presented in a more scientifically designed (as opposed...   [tags: Utopia Essays]

Better Essays
3129 words (8.9 pages)

Utopia Essays

- Utopia In the year 1515, a book in Latin text was published which became the most significant and controversial text ever written in the field of political science. Entitled, ‘DE OPTIMO REIPUBLICATE STATU DEQUE NOVA INSULA UTOPIA, clarissimi disertissimique viri THOMAE MORI inclutae civitatis Londinensis civis et Vicecomitis’, translated into English would read, ‘ON THE BEST STATE OF A COMMONWEALTH AND ON THE NEW ISLAND OF UTOPIA, by the Most Distinguished and Eloquent Author THOMAS MORE Citizen and Undersheriff of the Famous City of London.’....   [tags: Utopic Society Social Issues Essays]

Better Essays
4263 words (12.2 pages)

Utopia Essay

- Utopia The text Utopia was written by Sir Thomas Moore in 1516, just before the outbreak of the Reformation. More’s life flourished through the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, which were influential years in the Renaissance, a flowering of art and thought that began in Italy and flooded through Europe and England. Humanists often stressed the dignity of man and the power of reason while remaining deeply committed to Christianity. Their thought and writings helped to break the strict religious orthodoxy that had forced itself through the Middle Ages....   [tags: More Philosophy Perfect Society Essays]

Better Essays
1170 words (3.3 pages)